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Florida politician take plea deal, avoids DUI conviction

Authorities reported that a Florida lawmaker accused of DUI after an April traffic stop in Tallahassee recently faced a reduced charge in accordance with a plea agreement. Reportedly, the state representative pleaded no contest to reckless driving.

The April 21 traffic stop occurred after the lawmaker left a Taco Bell restaurant and ran a red light, according to authorities. The officer who conducted the traffic stop reported that he could smell alcohol on the driver. Furthermore, the representative allegedly refused to submit to either a field sobriety test or a breath test.

By taking the plea deal, the lawmaker avoided some of the more severe penalties that can accompany a DUI conviction, such as jail time. Instead, as part of the plea agreement, the lawmaker must seek counseling, take a victim's awareness class, perform 100 hours of community service, attend DUI school, serve six months of probation and submit to random alcohol tests once a week.

An authority on DUI defense claimed that the alcohol smell on its own does not warrant a conviction in a drunk-driving case. Moreover, the authority stated that one possible defense strategy in a case like this one is to argue that the driver's erratic driving was due to eating, the evidence for which might be empty food wrappers or a fast-food receipt.

This case illustrates the advantages of taking a plea deal when facing DUI charges. If available, this type of agreement is negotiated between the defense attorney and prosecutors and usually results in the accused driver facing reduced charges and lesser penalties. Moreover, a plea deal precludes the case from going to trial. However, it is important to remember that the terms of a plea agreement are not valid until they have been ratified by a judge.

Source: FOX 4, "Rep. Dane Eagle charged with reckless driving", Warren Wright, June 27, 2014

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