DUI on a Lawn mower? Not in Georgia.

Now I know what type of transportation to use the next time I decide to drink and use something motorized. John Deere, where are you? Reporter Greg Bluestein reporting for the AP cites a Georgia Supreme Court ruling this evening, stating: ‘A riding lawn mower may have four wheels, a powerful engine and can cost as much as a used car. If it’s stolen, however, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded Monday that it’s not a motor vehicle.’ The AP says the 4-3 decision overturned the conviction of Franklin Lloyd Harris, who was convicted of felony motor vehicle theft- after he loaded a Toro riding mower in 2006 from a Home Depot in Dalton into his van and sped away. Because Harris was a repeat offender, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Public defender Michael McCarthy told the justices that while Harris should still be charged with theft, he shouldn’t be punished as if he had stolen a car. A riding mower is many things, a modern mechanical marvel among them, but McCarthy said it’s not a motor vehicle under state law. Prosecutors countered that the state defines a “motor vehicle” as a “self-propelled” device, and there’s no doubt a riding mower meets that standard. The state’s top court agreed, concluding in an 18-page decision that the sentence should be overturned because the purpose of a riding mower is to cut grass, not transport people. They spent 18 pages debating this? “To be sure, a riding lawn mower is capable of transporting people or property and of driving on the street for short stretches,” Justice David Nahmias wrote in the opinion. “But that is not what the machine is designed for or how it is normally used.” In a dissent, Justice Harold Melton argued that Georgia lawmakers specifically defined “motor vehicle” broadly enough to include riding mowers. It warned that the ruling “has interpreted the statute in a manner that creates conflict and leads to an absurd result.” The case, which lawyers said set a precedent in Georgia, comes as other courts around the country grapple with similar concerns about whether riding lawnmowers and similar devices should be classified as vehicles. There was no discussion in the ruling over how the state defines motor vehicles for the purpose of alcohol-related arrests. That’s still a blurry issue in Georgia, where it’s a criminal offense to operate a car, truck or other “motor vehicle” while under the influence of alcohol. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, prosecutors might still pursue charges against those driving under the influence on mowers, too.


Unlawfull Display of a Driver’s License

There are different ways you can be charged with this offense. First, it is unlawful to display or represent as your own any driver’s license not issued to you. Second, it is unlawful to knowingly display a driver’s license that has been canceled, revoked, suspended, or disqualified. It is also unlawful to allow someone else to unlawfully use a license issued to you. All of these offenses are criminal infractions punishable up to 60 days in the county jail, a fine of up to $500, and/or up to 6 months of probation. In addition, it is unlawful to have in your possession, two driver’s licenses. We have represented numerous individuals over the years who changed their address with the DMV, received a new license but didn’t destroy their old one. Keep in mind that the law allows you to only possess one valid Florida license at a time. It goes without say that is is also not legal to give your licese to somone to get into a bar if they are under 21. It seems that this was, at a time, a right of passage for most young adults, but it is not worth going to jail for. Thus, if you get in trouble for any of these, or other, offenses, please call the trafficticketteam.com at 954-967-9888 or nationwide toll free 1-866-433-3363.

Don’t Lose Your License For 5 Years “HTO”

The Florida Supreme Court created a new rule that requires a judge to advise a defendant that a plea of guilty or no contest will result in a driver’s license suspension or revocation. One common situation in which the new rule will have a significant impact occurs when a defendant pleads guilty or no contest to a third-strike charge of driving while license suspended (DWLS) that will result in a five-year habitual traffic offender (HTO) driver’s license revocation. If a judge fails to give the required warning, the plea can be vacated under certain circumstances. The new rule goes into effect immediately. The new rule does not solve the problem that commonly occurs when a defendant incurs a five-year HTO revocation by paying the clerk of court a civil infraction DWLS fine.  It’s an all too common story. You get a traffic ticket for unknowingly driving with a suspended license. With the best of intentions, thinking you are doing the responsible thing by taking care of the problem, you pay the ticket. Then, you receive a letter from the DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) informing you that by paying the ticket you incurred a third habitual offender strike within five years, and as a result your driver’s license will be revoked for five years. Five years!  In a state of panic, you search for answers. Perhaps you call the clerk of court, the DHSMV, a lawyer, or you search the internet and find our website. Many of you call our office at the Traffic Ticket Team desperately seeking a way out of your dilemma. You learn, too late, that the five-year revocation could easily have been avoided simply by not paying the ticket and pleading not guilty instead.

We’re constantly amazed at how many people are never told the consequences of paying a DWLS (driving while license suspended) ticket. We are gratified that this Blog has to some degree raised the knowledge level in the State of Florida regarding HTO (habitual traffic offender) law. We are also gratified that we have been able to help many people remove a habitual offender strike and regain their driving privileges. But we have a long way to go. Many more people will receive the revocation letter, and will learn about HTO law the hard way. If this happens, call us at 954-967-9888 or www.TrafficTicketTeam.com and lets discuss your case. Jason A. Diamond, Esq.

FBI Agent Fails DUI Test

Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe Counties are inundated with “important” people who get arrested, particularly of DUI. The jails here have hosted a “who’s who” of celebrities, from Al Capone to Donté Stalworth. Recently, an FBI agent was arrested for drunk driving near Oakland Park, Florida. His behavior during the arrest was a perfect example of how not to act when you are suspected of driving under the influence.  FBI Special Agent Jorge Miyar was pulled over at a DUI checkpoint on Oakland Park Boulevard near Northeast 17th avenue. The officer’s first clue that Agent Miyar was intoxicated was when he ran over the curb. I will stand by my advice as a lawyer to all of you that running over a curb at a DUI check point is definitely not a good idea. It’s not quite as bad a peeing on an officer’s shoes, but it’s definitely going to get you unwanted attention.  During the course of the interview, Special Agent Miyar told the investigating trooper, “I know I’m F—–, I’ve been drinking and I’m in an FBI car.” He then went on to admit that he had been at a party where he had had about five beers. He took and flunked the field sobriety tests. However, he then refused to take the breathalyzer.  If there was ever any doubt that alcohol impairs your judgment, we can all look to Special Agent Miyar as an object lesson in the degenerative effects that booze has on the decision-making process. Needless to say, any lawyer worth his salt will tell you that you have the right to remain silent. That is not to say you should never speak to an officer, but confessing to the crime that the officer is investigating is certainly going to decrease you chances of getting a good plea bargain.  Just as you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to politely decline to perform the field sobriety exercises. There is no law that says you have to do the walk and turn or the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. The only thing this trained law enforcement officer refused was the breath test, but by that time, it was too late.  DUI cases are built on four things: driving pattern, statements, roadside tests, and the breath test. If you want to avoid a DUI: Don’t swerve on the road or break any traffic laws. When you are pulled over, respectfully decline to answer any questions. When offered field sobriety exercises, respectfully decline to do so. Refusing to perform a breath test is also a crime, although it is infrequently charged. If you perform a breath test, you have the right to an independent test at your own expense. You should definitely avail yourself to that right. If you get a traffic ticket or a DUI, call the Traffic Ticket Team and Jason A. Diamond to fight back for you.