Richard A. Alexander, PA
Please Call: 813-850-4247
What We Do
We are devoted to the protection of those accused of a crime, especially, DUI.
I want to thank you in advance in exploring my website as I know this may be a difficult time for you, so do not hesitate to call if I can answer any questions for you.
With over 100 trials, and countless Motions, in 2009 alone; I was most recently successful in getting a .118 breath alcohol dismissed (Pasco Co.), and a .154 blood alcohol reduced to a reckless driving (Pinellas Co.).
We secured a "no file" on a drug/urine sample DUI arrest (Hernando Co.), and were able to reduce a .09 breath alcohol to a Reckless Driving (Hills Co.).
In all my years of practice, I have yet to come across any area of law as complicated as DUI law. At the very least, it is incumbent upon you to speak with an attorney to understand and appreciate your rights and determine if hiring an attorney is the right choice for you.
Please Call: 813-850-4247
"Knowledge is Power!" I live and practice law with that mindset.
For close to 12 years, I have practiced law in Tampa Bay area. My first tenure was 4.5 years with the State Attorney's Office, where I was allowed to hone my skills as a trial lawyer. My office ran the gamut of daily deadlines under stressful, complicated and pressure-filled situations. I have prosecuted approximately 40 jury trials and 40 non-jury trials, not including hundreds of misdemeanors and felony motions and evidentiary hearings. I have prepared the testimony of hundreds of witnesses, victims and law enforcements officers.
Subsequently, I accepted a position with the law firm of Frazer, Hubbard, et al, where I continued to sharpen my skills as a trial lawyer and became immersed in the field of civil and municipality law. I grew as a professional, and I was granted the opportunity to meet and provide legal advice to local city commissioners, mayors and law enforcement. I established a new line of revenue to include collections and criminal defense.
After 3.5 years, in late 2004, I established my own practice concentrating on criminal defense, and have enjoyed the clients I have met and represented. My criminal experience is extensive in the prosecution and defense of criminal law, especially DUI law.
As a prosecutor and defense attorney, I have attended and completed numerous seminars in the field of DUI law, to include, the maintenance of the breath alcohol machine, Driving Patterns, Police/Citizen Contact, Field Sobriety Exerices, Florida Implied Consent Law, and Breath Alcohol Reading.
I have been fortunate to have lectured on DUI law at a seminar held at Mease Countryside Hospital, and have had numerous articles published both in criminal and civil law.
I received my law degree from the Mercer School of Law and graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A., majoring in History, concentrating on Military History, and a minor in Psychology.
For over 8 years, I have been a professor for the Graduate and Business Management College at the University of Phoenix (Southwest Florida Campus), where I instruct both undergraduate and graduate students on law related classes.
A member of the Florida and Colorado Bar - Proficient in Spanish.
Remember, "Knowledge is Power!"
Please Call: 813-850-4247
- My criminal experience is extensive in the prosecution and defense of criminal law, especially DUI law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, I have attended and completed numerous seminars in the field of DUI law, to include:
The maintenance of the breath alcohol machine;
- Driving Patterns;
- Police/Citizen Contact;
- Field Sobriety Exerices;
- Florida Implied Consent Law;
- Breath Alcohol Reading.
It is critical to appreciate that a typical DUI case can take months to resolve if it's to be defended properly, for there can be numerous documents that are not submitted during a routine Discovery request from the State Attorney's Office, such as, policy and procedure on DUI arrests from the law enforcement agency, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) lung volume sample logs.
Who We Are
Before you hire an attorney, ask these questions;
How many trials has my attorney conducted?
- Does my attorney teach in the field of law?
- Does my attorney lecture in the field of law?
- Has my attorney been published in the field of law?
- How long has my attorney been practicing in the field?
- What is his success rate with trials and plea deals?
- Will any Motions be filed on my behalf, and, if yes, which ones?
- Will I be an integral part of the defense or will I have to call to find out what going on with my case?
- Will I speak with an assistant, receptionist, answering service or to my lawyer?
- Will my attorney explore all options and help me to make the best choice for me?
Criminal matters affect you personally and professionally. Do not wait to decide if you need an attorney because there is too much at stake; conviction, incarceration, fines, court costs, restitution and probation.
You have the right to be represented and the longer you wait to speak with an attorney as to your options, the harder it will be to secure a defense, speak to witnesses on your behalf, gather evidence and talk to the prosecutor BEFORE charges are filed.
Any criminal case can be filed with complicated and sensitive issues, so it is important that your attorney explore all options. It is because of that uniqueness that it can be difficult to determine an outcome, but you must feel confident and comfortable in knowing that I will aggressively and zealously fight and defend your rights.
Why Defend a DUI Case?
- Let's face it - the police and the State Attorney's Office are under great pressure from advocacy groups to make more DUI arrests and convictions. This has resulted in a larger number of 'borderline' cases, or, cases in which an arrest should not have been made at all. The prosecutor's burden in proving DUI is governed by the same rules of law and evidence required by the courts in most cases. However, unlike most charges, the arresting officer's testimony relies on his "opinion" of your impairment relating to your ability to drive and your normal faculties. In addition, there may also be scientific evidence such as a breath test.
- In a typical DUI prosecution the state presents evidence regarding your driving pattern, the first contact between you and law enforcement, your performance on "field sobriety tests", and the results of a breath test.
- Although the evidence against a driver may seem strong at first glance, there are good defenses to the different segments of the state's case. A lack of evidence can be brought to the prosecutor's attention to secure a reduction to a lesser charge such as reckless driving, or possibly dismissal of the case.
CALL ME NOW: 813-850-4247FAQ1. What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the highways?
Police look for many things when looking for impaired drivers, however, the following list are the most common;
Turning with a wide radius
Straddling center of lane marker
Almost striking object or vehicle
Weaving , swerving, drifting
Driving on other than designated highway
Speed more than 10 mph below limit
Stopping without cause in traffic lane
Following too closely
Tires on center or lane marker
Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
Slow response to traffic signals
Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
Turning abruptly or illegally
Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
Speeding, incidentally, is not a symptom of DUI; because of quicker judgment and reflexes, it may indicate sobriety.
2. If I'm stopped by a police officer and he asks me if I've been drinking, what should I say?
A repectful response would be, "I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions" is a good reply. On the other hand, saying that you had one or two beers is not incriminating: it is not sufficient to cause intoxication -- and it may explain the odor of alcohol on the breath.
3. Do I have a right to an attorney when I'm stopped by an officer and asked to take a field sobriety test?
As a general rule, however, there is no right to an attorney until you have submitted to (or refused) blood, breath or urine testing. In some states, there is a right to consult with counsel upon being arrested or before deciding whether to submit to chemical testing. Of course, this does not mean that you cannot ask for one.
4. What is the officer looking for during the initial detention at the scene?
Typically, law enforcement is looking for the following list of clues, which was are traditional symptoms of intoxication taught at police academies:
Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
Odor of alcohol on breath
Fumbling with wallet trying to get license
Failure to comprehend the officer's questions
Staggering when exiting vehicle
Swaying/instability on feet
Leaning on car for support
Combative, argumentative, jovial or other "inappropriate" attitude
Soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing
Stumbling while walking
Disorientation as to time and place
Inability to follow directions
5. What should I do if I'm asked to take field sobriety tests?
There are a wide range of field sobriety tests (FSTs), including heel-to-toe, finger-to-nose, one-leg stand, alphabet recitation. Most officers will use a set battery of three to five such tests. Unlike the request to provide a breath sample, which has some siginificant consequences on your driver's license, you are not legally required to take any FSTs. The reality is that officers have made up their minds to arrest when they give the FSTs; the tests are simply additional evidence which the suspect inevitable "fails"; a polite refusal may be adequate.
6. Why did the officer make me follow a penlight with my eyes to the left and right?
This is the "horizontal gaze nystagmus" test, a relatively recent development in DUI investigation. The officer attempts to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk ("nystagmus" is medical jargon for eye jerking); if this occurs sooner than 45 degrees, it theoretically indicates an excessive blood-alcohol concentration. The smoothness of the eye's tracking the penlight (or finger or pencil) is also a factor, as is the jerking when the eye is as far to the side as it can go.
7. Do I have to provide a breath or urine sample? What happens if I don't?
The quick answer is "No." You do not have to provide a breath or urine sample; however, the consequences of refusing to submit to a blood, breath or urine test will have an effect on your driver's license, which are as follows:
Your driver's license will be suspended for a 1 year on a 1st refusal and 18 months on a 2nd refusal. However, what they do not tell you is you should be eligible for a Hardship License, regardless. Of course, it would depend on any prior refusals or any outstanding issues with the DMV.
Recently, a 2nd refusal is now a separate crime; and may add jail time to the sentence for the DUI offense.
The fact of refusal can be introduced into evidence as "consciousness of guilt." Of course, the defense is free to offer other reasons for the refusal. Thus, the decision is one of weighing the likelihood of a high blood-alcohol reading against the consequences for refusing.
8. Do I have a choice of chemical tests? Which should I choose?
You can ask for a blood draw at your expense, but law enforcement does not have to advise that you have a choice. However, be very careful about "setting that wheel in motion" as you may have just provided the State Attorney with evidence to convict you. A breath sample is not saved and cannot be re-analyzed by the defense. Analysis of a blood sample is potentially the most accurate. Breath machines are susceptible to a number of problems rendering them often unreliable. The least accurate by far, however, is urinalysis. Thus, if you are confident that you are sober, a blood sample is the wise choice; urine, being least accurate and most easily impeached, is the best option if you believe your blood-alcohol concentration is above the legal limit.
9. The officer never gave me a Miranda warning: Can I get my case dismissed?
No. The officer is supposed to give a 5th Amendment warning after he arrests you. Often, however, they do not. The only consequence is that the prosecution cannot use any of your answers to questions asked by the police after the arrest. However, the failure to advise you of Florida's Implied Consent Law is important which will have a direct effect on your driver's license.
10. The officer took my license and served me with a notice of suspension after the breath test: How can he do that if I'm presumed innocent?
It makes no sense and it is blatantly unfair, but see question 9, which provides for immediate suspension and confiscation of the license if the breath test result is above the legal limit.
11. Can I represent myself? What can a lawyer do for me?
You can represent yourself -- although it is not a good idea. "Drunk driving" is a very complex field with increasingly harsh consequences. There is a minefield of complicated procedural, evidentiary, constitutional, sentencing and administrative license issues. What can a lawyer do? Nothing (or worse) if he is not qualified in this highly specialized field -- no more than a family doctor could help with brain surgery. A qualified attorney, however, can review the case for defects, suppress evidence, compel discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath machine, have blood samples independently analyzed, negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative license suspension, etc.
12. What will it cost to get a lawyer?
This varies, of course, by the reputation and experience of the lawyer and by the geographic location. In addition, the fee may vary by such other factors as:
Is the offense a misdemeanor or felony?
If prior convictions are alleged, the procedures for attacking them may add to the cost.
The fee may or may not include trial or appeals.
Whatever the fee quoted, you should ask for a written agreement and make sure you understand all the terms.
13. What is the punishment for drunk driving?
In Florida, the minimum/mandatory sentence on a 1st time DUI can be quite daunting, to wit,
Must be found Guilty,
Driver's license will be suspended for 6 months,
Fine of at least $500, with court costs additional
Probation for 1 year,
50 hours community service,
10 day car impound,
Ignition interlock device (not in all cases, however),
No alcohol during the period of probation,
Victim Impact Panel (Again, not in all cases),
DUI school and any recommended treatment
14. What is a sentence "enhancement"?
Most states increase the punishment in drunk driving cases if certain facts exist. The most common of these is an earlier conviction for the same or a similar offense -- usually within five or ten years of the current offense. Other commonly encountered enhancements can include:
A child was in the car at the time.
The defendant was traveling 20 or 30 miles over the speed limit at the time.
The blood-alcohol concentration was over .20%.
The defendant refused to submit to a chemical test.
There was property damage or injury.
15. What is a "rising BAC defense"?
An individual's BAC may continue to rise for some time after he is stopped and arrested. Commonly, it is an hour or more after the stop when the blood, breath or urine test is given to the suspect. Assume that the result is .12%. If the suspect has continued to absorb alcohol since he was stopped, his BAC at the time he was driving may have been only .08%. In other words, the test result shows a blood-alcohol concentration above the legal limit -- but his actual BAC AT THE TIME OF DRIVING was below. An expert would be most helpful in explaining these facts to a jury.
16. What is "mouth alcohol"?
"Mouth alcohol" refers to the existence of any alcohol in the mouth or esophagus. If this is present during a breath test, then the results will be falsely high. This is because the breath machine assumes that the breath is from the lungs; for complex physiological reasons, its internal computer multiplies the amount of alcohol by 2100. Thus, even a tiny amount of alcohol breathed directly into the machine from the mouth or throat can have a huge impact. Mouth alcohol can be caused in many ways. Belching, burping, hiccuping or vomiting within 20 minutes of taking the test can bring vapor from alcoholic beverages still in the stomach up into the mouth and throat. Taking a breath freshener can send a machine's reading way up (such products as Binaca and Listerine have alcohol in them); cough syrups and other products also contain alcohol. Dental bridges and dental caps can trap alcohol. Blood in the mouth from an injury is yet another source of inaccurate breath test results: breathed into the mouthpiece, any alcohol in the blood will be multiplied 2100 times.
17. What defenses are there in a DUI case?
Potential defenses in a given drunk driving case are almost limitless due to the complexities of the offense. Roughly speaking, however, the majority can be broken down into the following areas:
Driving: Intoxication is not enough: the prosecution must also prove that the defendant was driving. This may be difficult if, as in the case of accidents, there are no witnesses to his being the driver of the vehicle.
Probable cause: Evidence will be suppressed if the officer did not have legal cause to (a) stop, (b) detain, and (c) arrest. Sobriety roadblocks present particularly complex issues.
Miranda: Incriminating statements may be suppressed if warnings were not given at the appropriate time.
Implied consent warnings: If the officer did not advise you of the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test, or gave it incorrectly, this may affect admissibility of the test results -- as well as the license suspension imposed by the motor vehicle department.
"Under the influence": The officer's observations and opinions as to intoxication can be questioned -- the circumstances under which the field sobriety tests were given, for example, or the subjective (and predisposed) nature of what the officer considers as "failing". Witnesses can testify that you appeared to be sober.
Blood-alcohol concentration: There exists a wide range of potential problems with blood, breath or urine testing. "Non-specific" analysis, for example: most breath machines will register many chemical compounds found on the human breath as alcohol. And breath machines assume a 2100-to-1 ratio in converting alcohol in the breath into alcohol in the blood; in fact, this ratio varies widely from person to person (and within a person from one moment to another). Radio frequency interference can result in inaccurate readings. These and other defects in analysis can be brought out in cross-examination of the state's expert witness, and/or the defense can hire its own forensic chemist.
Testing during the absorptive phase: The blood, breath or urine test will be unreliable if done while you are still actively absorbing alcohol (it takes 45 minutes to three hours to complete absorption; this can be delayed if food is present in the stomach). Thus, drinking "one for the road" can cause inaccurate test results.
Retrograde extrapolation: This refers to the requirement that the BAC be "related back" in time from the test to the driving (see question #15). Again, a number of complex physiological problems are involved here.
Regulation of blood-alcohol testing: The prosecution must prove that the blood, breath or urine test complied with state requirements as to calibration, maintenance, etc.
License suspension hearings: A number of issues can be raised in the context of an administrative hearing before the state's department of motor vehicles.
18. I have some questions about my DUI case. Where can I go for answers?
An experienced drunk driving lawyer is the best source, of course. However, if you wish to explore, then please feel free to review the following website on Florida DUI law at www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/duilaws.html
Still have questions? Please contact us anytime at 813-850-4247, or email right now and I will immediately receive your message on my phone: Ralexanderlaw@aol.com