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6 Tips for Handling DUI Stop

What You Don’t Know, Could Cost You

 

New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. Law enforcement knows this and will have extra officers on patrol stopping people for suspicion of Driving Under the Influence. Do not start off 2018 in jail by drinking and driving. Instead, use a designated driver or a rideshare program like UBER or Lyft. If stopped on suspicion of DUI, here are some tips to keep in mind:

First things First

#1 When pulled over, stop in a safe place. Remain in the vehicle. Take a deep breath and stay calm.  A law enforcement officer is not permitted to pull you over unless you have committed a traffic infraction. This may include running a red light, running a stop sign, speeding, swerving, a tail light out, etc. Something minor like dark tints or loud music can be enough for a law enforcement officer to make a stop.
#2 Keep your hands on the steering wheel and in view of law enforcement. When an officer approaches, roll down the window.  If it is nighttime, the officer will shine a flashlight in your face. It is important that you remain calm. Police will then request the usual license and registration. If you fumble for these, it could be considered a sign of impairment by the police.

Law enforcement is looking for signs of impairment such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and the smell of alcohol or drugs such as marijuana and will ask some questions to get you talking in order to assess whether your speech is slurred or breathe smells of alcohol.

If Law enforcement suspects DUI they will probably ask

  • “Have you had anything to drink?”
  • “Where are you coming from/going?”

Do You Need to Answer?

#3 Know the difference between cooperating and protecting yourself. Nerves can cause us to ramble-on or overshare – this can do more harm than good. Technically, you do not have to answer their questions. It is completely legal to remain silent and state that you wish to speak with a lawyer present. Be careful though, this could make the officer even more suspicious.

Field Sobriety Tests:

#4 Refuse field sobriety tests. These tests are designed to gather evidence AGAINST you! You have the right to refuse these tests and you should refuse them.

When was the last time you practiced standing on one leg with your other foot lifted forward? Or the last time you walked an imaginary line, heel to toe? What if you have a bad back or bad knees? Add to these factors, flashing bright lights, passing traffic, uneven pavement and it becomes a recipe for disaster. One misstep or one instance of losing your balance, even after completing 80% of the test without incident, is evidence against you.

If you find yourself at the point of field sobriety tests, chances are, you are already going to jail. So, simply do not give a police officer evidence to use against you in court.

To Blow or Not to Blow?

#5 Always refuse to blow! Why? The machine is unreliable.

Note: Florida driver’s licenses state that by having a license the driver consents to these tests. Therefore, if you refuse these tests it can result in a driver’s license suspension.  You have 10-days from the date of arrest to challenge the suspension in an administrative hearing.

What to Remember for a DUI Stop

#6 Make sure you have an experienced DUI attorney on your side. You want someone who understands the system and knows how the DUI process is handled; someone who will fight for your rights if you have been wrongfully accused. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. If you have been wrongfully charged with DUI, contact Jennifer Meksraitis for a free consultation at (813) 600-9137 or via email.

 

 

*Keep this in mind when driving anywhere. A driver cannot be pulled over without a valid reason. Always keep the vehicle maintained and always abide by the rules of the road.

 

Smart Road Trip Safety Tips

Smart Road Trip Safety Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore this Holiday Season

During the time leading up to the holiday season, it can feel as if there are more people on the road than usual. College students coming home to enjoy holiday break, families traveling to visit one another, “snowbirds” being down for the season, and all of the holiday shopping trips are just a few ways the roads seem to “fill up” during this time. With this increase of traffic on the roads comes an unavoidable increased risk for accidents.

This increase in traffic is unavoidable and with more of society being mobile now than ever, there are steps you should take before getting on the road to ensure your safety.

According to AAA, some important tips for holiday road trips and shopping are:

  1. Keep your vehicle well maintained
  2. Map your route in advance and be prepared for extra traffic when accounting for travel time
  3. Do not drive under the influence of anything and get a good night’s sleep before driving
  4. Be extra cautious when driving at night, in bad weather, or near construction zones
  5. Have a fully charged cell phone and roadside assistance handy

An Increase in a Different Kind of Traffic

Even more of a risk comes from the large truck drivers. The holiday season brings more of a demand from restaurants, grocery stores, malls, shops, and online orders. Trucks catering to that increase of demand are sharing the road with this increase of holiday traffic – and an increase of car accidents as well. Trucking accidents aren’t as simple as regular car accidents. Due to their size, more often than not, truck accidents tend to be catastrophic.

Truck driving accidents happen for a number of reasons. The driver could have inadequate training and technique, the driver might not have gotten the necessary amount of sleep (or m be disobeying the federal government laws about hours workable per shift), with driving incentives they make more money by driving faster, or one of many more possibilities.

Be sure to always keep a safe distance when sharing the road with these vehicles; make sure you and your car are in a visible position in relation to the truck driver. You can usually ensure this by staying within sight of their side mirrors. Another important safety tip to keep in mind with these large trucks is when you are passing them. Make sure to go very long and leave a lot of distance for the truck behind you when you get in front of them. If you cut off a large truck, it may cause them to have to stop suddenly. In a large truck, this is nearly impossible to do – especially depending on how heavy their cargo is.

Always Remember

Do not forget that we share the roads with large trucks. The best way to drive safely for both parties is to stay aware and keep a good distance.

After an accident, the main priority is your well-being. After that, you want to be sure to have aggressive and experienced representation on your side.  There is no need to add extra stress to an already very busy time of year. Enjoy the holiday season and stay safe on the roads. If you have any more questions about what to do after an accident or injury, call Jennifer Meksraitis for a free consultation at (813) 600-3197 or contact her via email.

**BONUS:

Below is a driving checklist with ridiculously easy pointers to remember when getting behind the wheel. Staying aware while driving can mean the difference between life and death.

Car Accident 101: How to Handle a Hit & Run

Crucial Steps You Need to Take Moments After

In recent years, hit-and-run car accidents have become an increasing problem for drivers. According to Florida law, you must stop and remain at the scene of any car accident to fulfill certain legal duties – especially when the accident involves death, bodily injury, or property damage. These duties include things like exchanging information. If you a hit an unattended car, you must attempt to locate the owner or operator. If no one is available, provide a written notice of the accident to the owner or operator (such as by leaving a note under the windshield wiper). Even after you take these steps after hitting an unattended vehicle, Florida law says you must notify the nearest law enforcement agency of the crash. Failing to follow these steps is what is commonly known as a hit-and-run.

Why do Hit-and-Runs Happen?

The at-fault drivers might turn a car accident into a hit-and-run situation for many different reasons – the person may be avoiding law enforcement, they could have illegal substances or objects in the vehicle, they could be driving under the influence,  they could be wanting to avoid making an insurance claim, or they could be uninsured/underinsured.

An at-fault driver can be held to some serious consequences for committing a hit-and-run no matter what their reason is. At the same time, this can put you in a tough situation if you have been the victim of a hit-and-run car accident and you may not know what to do next. It is best to be educated about what to do next before you find yourself in a situation like this so you can make sure that the other driver is held accountable and you are not responsible for the damages done to yourself or the car.

Don’t Let a Hit-and-Run Catch You Unprepared

Some tips to help you if you have been involved in a hit-and-run situation are listed below. The more details and information you are able to give authorities, the more likely they are able to find the person who accountable for the incident. Steps to take moments after a hit-and-run car accident:

  1. Stay calm – Check to make sure you are okay and check to see if your vehicle is in working enough condition to move off the road as to not obstruct traffic.
  2. Call 911 – Request police to the scene and any medical attention needed.
  3. Write down as much information and details as you can – do this as soon as you can while you remember things most clearly.
    • Time, date, and location of the accident
    • If you WERE present and saw the car that hit you:
      • Color, Make, Model, and License Plate Number of the other car
      • Physical description of driver if possible
      • All damages found to the car
    • If you WERE NOT present for the accident:
      • All damages found to car
      • Condition of the car after the accident
  4. Seek out witnesses and get their contact information –  Witnesses are a crucial factor in hit-and-run cases.
  5. Take pictures of your car and accident scene – if the other car’s paint is visible on the damage this will help to prove you are not trying to defraud your insurance company.

The More Information You Have, The Better!

When Law enforcement arrives, be sure to give them as much information as you can for their report. Making sure you have proper coverage on your vehicle can also be a huge factor in the outcome of a hit-and-run car accident. You may think you have “full coverage”, but you should check your policy to see if it includes Underinsured and Uninsured Coverage.

A hit-and-run car accident can be scary; The process following doesn’t have to be a hassle so long as you are educated ahead of time. Having more information can increase the chances of the police finding who is responsible for the car accident; This can help your insurance company make decisions about your claim.  Insurance companies can also be tough to deal with following a hit-and-run and you should be sure to report the incident to them as soon as possible.

After any car accident, the main priority is your well-being. After that, you want to be sure to have aggressive and experienced representation on your side. If you have any more questions about what to do after a car accident or call Jennifer Meksraitis for a free consultation at (813) 600-3197 or contact her via email.

What They Don’t Tell You About Black Friday

      As everyone gets ready for Thanksgiving, the stores and holiday shoppers really have their eyes focused on the day after – Black Friday. In the current century, Thanksgiving itself has really just turned into a “carb-loading-pregame” to energize and fuel everyone for the competitive shopping holiday brought on by unbeatable, limited-time-only, holiday deals from many large retailers.
      As the shopping frenzy has gotten more intense throughout the years, so have the shoppers; some shoppers camp outside for hours before the store even opens, while others resort to physical violence to ensure they can purchase a product. Alongside the rising competition for the latest technology and toys, the opportunity for danger rises too. There is a website that is tracking the death count and injuries that have occurred as a result of Black Friday shopping dating back to 2006 to show just how dangerous this day has become.
      Many of the deaths and injuries listed on the site are a result of people being trampled by a massive crowd trying to enter the stores or from fights breaking out which, oftentimes, results in a shooting. On Black Friday, it is important to stay vigilant and to make sure you avoid large crowds. Although online shopping is becoming increasingly popular and many stores have already started a lot of their Black Friday deals early, there is still a risk of injury.
      Throughout the full holiday season (not only Black Friday), the mall can become a dangerous place in general. With an increased flow of people through the mall, there is more opportunity for car accidents, injury as a result of the negligence of the property, or crime due to lack of security for the number of people. Some
 valuable safety tips to consider when shopping this holiday season:
             1. Look out for spills and other trip hazards caused by other customers spilling or moving items
             2. Stay away from large crowds and refrain from arguing or fighting any unruly customers

             3. Park in a well-lit area and double check before backing out or pulling into any parking spots

What to Remember:

      Stores, malls, and shops are primarily focused on getting your business this time of year. At times, this can mean they may not be properly prepared. This can mean they don’t have adequate security or other measures needed to avoid the dangers that are inherited from facilitating a large crowd.
     The holiday season is meant to be shared with friends and family; you do not want the added stress of an unwanted injury and medical bills. In the case that anything unfortunate does occur, your first priority is well-being. After that, make sure you have excellent representation by an attorney like Jennifer Meksraitis, someone who knows how to handle a situation like this. If you have been injured and are unable to pay your bills, contact Jennifer Meksraitis for aggressive representation to protect your rights and financial interests and keep your future looking bright so you can enjoy your holiday season. Call ‪(813) 600-3197‬ or visit www.813law.com to learn more.

Knowing How to Handle an Arrest or Criminal Charges

Criminal Lawyer Tampa Florida

Exercise Your Rights

There are important steps you can take to exercise your rights when dealing with criminal allegations:

  1. REMAIN SILENT: Regardless of your circumstance, you must remain silent. Whether you have been arrested or are being investigated, do not speak to anyone without consulting a lawyer first. Don’t talk to the police, friends, relatives, or other people in jail. Everything you say, whether true or not, can and will be used against you. REMAIN SILENT BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. Your right to remain silent CANNOT be used against you; however, you may provide your name, and if driving, your driver’s license.
  2. DON’T PLEAD: Do not plead guilty or no contest until you speak with a lawyer. Even if you think you are guilty, have a lawyer evaluate all of your legal options first, before you plead anything. If you plead GUILTY or NO CONTEST and are sentenced, you may be CONVICTED. In criminal court, there is no real difference between pleading guilty and pleading no contest. The result is the same and you are sentenced exactly the same, based upon the plea deal worked out with the prosecutor. Notably, this is extremely important in DUI, Domestic Battery, and Drug Possession cases.

In sum, pleading your case or pleading guilty may seem like a fast and easy solution, but a criminal conviction can affect you for the rest of your life. When applying for a job or a loan, renting an apartment, renewing a green card, obtaining a professional license, traveling abroad, or buying insurance — you will be judged FOREVER by that one mistake.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and is simply intended to provide information regarding auto insurance coverage. It is not a complete explanation but a summary regarding a specific topic of auto insurance coverage. Many details are excluded from this summary with the intent of brevity.

Facts for Full Coverage in Florida

Personal Injury Tampa Bay, FL

 

Understanding the Five Types of Auto Insurance

The term “full coverage” is a misleading term that is often used improperly in the insurance industry. Oftentimes it is used to mean that an insured has the bare minimum coverage as required to obtain a Florida Driver’s License. Many people who currently have a valid Florida Driver’s License are driving every day on Florida roads and highways without sufficient insurance coverage to pay for the medical expenses of others if they are at fault for an accident. That is why every Florida driver should protect themselves by understanding these five types of coverage:

1) Personal Injury Protection (PIP): The bare minimum coverage required in Florida is “Personal Injury Protection,” which is also called “PIP” or “No-Fault” insurance. Unfortunately, most Florida drivers are misinformed and believe that just because they have “PIP” they have “full coverage.” PIP provides coverage to the policyholder of up to $10,000 in medical expenses regardless of the fault of the insured. PIP is paid by the insurance company directly to the doctor, hospital, ambulance, or chiropractor who provides the insured with medical treatment. PIP benefits are only paid directly to the insured for lost time from work and only at a rate of 60 percent of the lost wages.

This type of coverage may seem sufficient to some, however, most of the time it is not. Even a minor accident could result in medical bills and lost wages that exceed $10,000. If this is the only coverage an insured person purchases, they are not fully covered. With PIP, the insured does not have coverage that protects their assets should they be at fault for an accident, does not have coverage for themselves in the event that their medical bills exceed $10,000, and does not have coverage for damage to their vehicle or damage to another’s vehicle. “PIP” coverage is not having “full coverage.”

2) Bodily Injury (BI): Florida law does require all insured persons to carry Bodily Injury Coverage (“BI”). This statute is sometimes called “The Financial Responsibility Law.” Interestingly, Florida law does not require an insured driver to have BI coverage to obtain a Florida Driver’s License. If, however, a driver is at fault for an accident and they do not have BI coverage, they could have their driver’s license suspended for failing to pay the out-of-pocket medical expenses of an injured party. This may seem unfair, especially when the driver believed they were obtaining “full coverage” by purchasing only “PIP” coverage.

Bodily Injury coverage starts at the 10/20 level ($10,000 per person/$20,000total) and can go up to millions of dollars in coverage. If, however, a driver is at fault for an accident and the injured parties’ medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and future medical expenses exceed the 10/20 minimum BI limits, the driver could be exposed to seizure of their personal assets in a lawsuit. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the BI limits are high enough to cover and protect the insured person’s personal assets should they be at fault for an accident.

3) Uninsured/Underinsured (UM): Even if an insured has “PIP” and “BI” they still do not have “full coverage.” That is because the insured does not have the coverage necessary to protect themselves in the event that they are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. The most important coverage any insured should have is called uninsured/underinsured coverage, or “UM”. Typically, UM coverage matches the BI coverage an insured elects to have. An insured can also elect stacking or non-stacking UM coverage.

Stacking UM coverage means that if the insured has more than one vehicle is insured and they have 100/300 in UM and BI, the UM coverage would be multiplied by the number of vehicles being insured. For example, an insured has three vehicles and elects to stack their UM, they now have three times or 300/900 in UM coverage. That means that if the insured is involved in an accident and is not at fault – he or she could be entitled to the BI of the at-fault party as well as $300,000 in UM benefits and, if un-stacked, $100,000 in UM benefits.

I cannot stress enough the importance of obtaining UM coverage before an insured is involved in an accident. Drivers can protect themselves by having UM coverage in the event they are involved in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist.

4) Property Damage/Collision: There are other important insurance coverages, such as property damage and collision, which every insured driver should have. Property damage pays for the damage to another’s vehicle, while collision covers damage to a person’s own vehicle in the event the at-fault party does not have coverage or the insured is the one at fault.

5) Medical Payments Coverage: There is also medical payments coverage, which covers medical expenses not paid for by PIP. This coverage is also important.

In conclusion, there is no true definition of the phrase “full coverage.” It could mean obtaining just enough coverage to protect your assets in the event you cause an accident and just enough coverage to be able to compensate yourself if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence. It is clear, however, that you should have PIP, BI, UM, Property Damage, and Collision at the very least. Having all five coverages is the closest to actually having “full coverage.”
Learn about more about automobile accident legal services.

If you have been injured and are unable to pay your bills, then contact Jennifer Meksraitis for aggressive representation to protect your rights and financial interests and keep your future looking bright. Call (813) 600-3197 or email Jennifer Meksraitis.

 

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and is simply intended to provide information regarding auto insurance coverage. It is not a complete explanation but a summary regarding a specific topic of auto insurance coverage. Many details are excluded from this summary with the intent of brevity. 

Can the Police Really Search There?

You’ve seen the crime shows, and you know that the police need a warrant to search your home. You may even know that the Fourth Amendment protects you against unlawful search and seizure.

But when an officer actually knocks on your door, will you know what to do? Do you know your constitutional rights? By the end of this article, you will.

Consent to Search

If the police show up at your door, do not give them permission to come inside and look around. By doing so, you’re waiving your Fourth Amendment rights and allowing the police to perform a search without a warrant and without probable cause.

You may be wondering if the police will tell you your rights as they do with arrests. But the answer is no: the police do not need to inform you about your right to refuse consent. Be clear when you talk to the police. Say the following: “I do not give consent for you to search my property.”

If they keep talking to you, respond to every question by refusing your consent.

If you accidentally let the police begin searching your home, you can still revoke consent. Just say the words, “I revoke my consent to this search,” and the police are required by law to stop.

Probable Cause

If you refuse consent to search your house, the police must establish probable cause to get a search warrant, except for extreme situations.

Just what does probable cause mean, though? It depends on the situation. Many law dictionaries define probable cause as enough evidence that a prudent person would think something is true.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to determine whether the evidence shows probable cause—the judge who issues the warrant does. However, if you are accused of a crime, talk with your lawyer about whether there was sufficient cause for a warrant.

Search Warrants

In the United States, search warrants must be both specific and reasonable, and the police must stay within those limits. For instance, if a search warrant allows officers to search your bedroom, they may not legally search your kitchen unless they get another warrant.

Carefully review the search warrant when the police present it, and keep an eye on them as they search your house. If they wander into areas of your house not outlined in the warrant, remind them again that you do not give them consent to search other parts of your house. Otherwise, you risk forfeiting some of your rights.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Though it’s crucial to know your rights, it’s just as important to know the limits to your rights. Though the police need a warrant to search your house, you can’t prevent searches in areas that aren’t your private property. The police can always search public restrooms, jail cells, and garbage set out for collection in a public place.

Also remember that you may not have control over some things the police can search. If your workplace gave you a cell phone to use for business, the company controls whether the police can search it. The same thing goes for rented property—your landlord decides if the police need a search warrant.

Inevitable Discovery

If the police discover evidence that they can easily find without a search, they’re allowed to use it in court. For example, if the police see illegal drugs on your passenger seat when they pull you over for speeding, they can use those drugs as evidence later. Be careful where you place your personal items. To best protect your privacy, stow all your items in the trunk or glove box when you drive.

Exclusionary Rule

In case the police do find enough evidence to arrest you, talk to your lawyer immediately about the search process. If the police searched your property illegally, you can have the evidence dismissed from court.

When the police knock on your door, tell them they need to get a warrant if they want to search your home. Then call your lawyer and discuss your strategy. You can’t be too careful about protecting your Fourth Amendment rights. For aggressive, experienced representation call Jennifer Meksraitis at 813-600-3197, or use the contact form.

Dog Bites: How to Get the Legal Process Started

“Dog attacks 4 year old.”

“Chimp rips woman’s hands off.”

Headlines like these always catch the public’s eye, but few people know what happens after an animal attack. It’s a far-off tragedy that is quickly forgotten.

But if you were bitten by a dog or other pet, the pain is literal and real. You have legal rights and can receive compensation from the animal’s owner by following this process.

First Steps after the Bite

If a pet bit you, your first priority is to get better. However, you can do a few things while you heal to help your case. Take pictures of your injuries, both before and after receiving treatment. If a lawyer or jury can see your exact injuries, the number of stitches, and any scarring, that evidence can help your case. Start putting all related paperwork, such as medical bills, in one place.

You should also begin a journal to track your pain, loss of income, and other problems caused by the attack. Keep any interaction with the animal’s owner in writing, such as email or text message, or write down the conversation as soon as possible.

Preparing for a Consultation

Written records and physical evidence are your friends. Before you see a lawyer, you’ll want to compile a file or notebook of records and other evidence to prove your case.

Your file should include:

Official Records: You should, at a minimum, include the bite report records you filed with the city, sheriff, or animal control. This proves the bite actually happened. You should also include your medical records, which you can get from your doctor, therapist, and/or hospital.

Pictures: Any pictures of your injuries, the scene of the incident, and/or the animal will help establish your case. Print them up on picture-quality paper and organize them chronologically. Be sure to mark the date of the picture clearly.

Money Matters: If you’ve made any insurance claims, bring in copies of those claims. Likewise, bring in any medical bills. If the bite has caused you to miss substantial work, bring in any other bills you cannot pay as the result of the bite.

If you’d like compensation for lost work or revenue, you will need to bring in income information from before and after the bite. Compensation for lost income can be difficult to prove. Your goal is to prove a solid cause-and-effect relationship between the bite and a change in your income.

Correspondence: Include any correspondence you’ve had with the animal’s owner(s) in your file. If they’ve agreed to help monetarily, or admitted that they knew their animal was vicious or dangerous, this could help your case.

You should also bring the journal you’ve been keeping and a list of questions for the lawyer. In your file, group records by date or record type (as we’ve done here), so the consultation goes as smoothly as possible. You will have a better consultation if your lawyers can see the entire situation.

Helpful Questions for Your Consultation

It’s helpful to write down some questions before you meet with a lawyer, so you don’t forget to ask any. Some questions you might consider asking include:

Have you handled cases like mine? What is your success rate?
Is this a valid case?
Will I work with you as my lawyer, or will I work with someone else at this firm? Can I meet him or her?
Is it possible to arrange a contingency fee? (A contingency fee means you only pay a fee after a successful settlement.)

Afterwards, ask yourself how comfortable you feel working with that lawyer or firm. Trust your instincts, as you will work with this lawyer or firm on a regular basis.

After an animal attack, your first priority is your well-being. After that, please give your local personal injury lawyer a call for more help. For aggressive, experienced representation, call Jennifer Meksraitis at 813-600-3197, or use our contact form.

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