It is common knowledge that people involved in collisions while they are driving under the influence can be charged with DUI crimes. It is less clear in some cases, however, what constitutes a crash and, therefore, grounds for arresting a person for suspicion of DUI. A recent Florida case in which the court ruled that a single car accident highlights this issue and the implications it could have for people charged with DUI crimes. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is smart to talk to an Illinois DUI defense lawyer to weigh your possible defenses.
Florida Law Regarding DUI Crashes
It is reported that a significant legal battle in Florida has arisen following a single-vehicle accident that could have a far-reaching impact in DUI cases. In September 2019, the defendant was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges in Tallahassee after his truck flipped into a ditch. Police responded to the accident, finding the defendant in a disoriented state. He was arrested, claiming he had two beers at a pool hall and was sideswiped on his way home. The defendant’s defense argued that neither officer had seen him driving the vehicle, making the warrantless misdemeanor arrest invalid since Florida law mandates that a crime must occur in the presence of police for such arrests.
Allegedly, a crash is an exception to this rule. As such, the primary issue became whether the incident fit the legal definition of a crash. A three-judge panel in Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the defendant’s accident was indeed a crash. They concluded that the collision with other objects, damage to the road and ditch, and a damaged headlight met the definition of a crash. This ruling has significant implications, as it may impact future DUI cases involving crashes and the definition of crashes under the law.
Illinois Regarding DUI Crashes
In Illinois, as in many other states, law enforcement officers are generally allowed to make warrantless arrests for misdemeanor offenses if the offense occurs within the officer’s presence. This means that if an officer witnesses someone committing a misdemeanor, they can arrest that person without obtaining an arrest warrant.
Illinois law also allows warrantless misdemeanor arrests in cases where the officer has probable cause to believe the person committed or is committing any crime. Thus, it arguably allows for a DUI arrest following a single car collision. It’s important to note that while Illinois law permits warrantless misdemeanor arrests in certain situations, officers must still have probable cause to believe that the individual has committed the misdemeanor offense. If the arrest is made without probable cause, it may be challenged in court.
Speak to a Skilled Illinois DUI Defense Attorney
Simply because a person is arrested for a DUI offense does not mean that they will be convicted, as there are often mistakes made during the investigation and arrest that can result in the dismissal of charges. If you are accused of a DUI offense, it is wise to speak to an attorney. Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a skilled Illinois DUI defense attorney, who can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome available. You can reach Mr. Harvatin via the online form or by calling 217.525.0520 to schedule a meeting.