Political Comments Put Drunk Driver on the Front Page
The 2020 election is going to be one for the ages. Once again, Florida is seen as a key swing state, and South Florida is seen as a must-win area by both parties. Our airwaves are therefore saturated with political news and advertisements. Whether you find all the political noise exciting or annoying, be careful that it does not cause you to spout statements to the cops that you do not want to see on the front page.
A Florida man recently made headlines after claiming he was driven to drink after watching President Donald Trump on TV. Eighty-two-year-old Cary De Van was reportedly so incensed after watching televised remarks from the president that he downed some vodka, then went for a drive in his golf cart. He admitted he crashed the vehicle and was charged with a DUI.
The law enforcement officials that responded to the accident included all the details on what De Van said about the president in their report, and the media gleefully reported them. This is yet another reminder that you should never say more than you need to if you are questioned by the police because Florida’s expansive Sunshine Laws make virtually all law enforcement reports public records the media can use as clickbait.
How We Can Help
At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we are regularly contacted by people who are upset their arrest is being covered by the local media because it makes them appear guilty. While we do everything in our power to clear their good name by ensuring they are treated as innocent unless they are proven guilty in a court of law, there is little we can do to stop the media from running any little tidbit from a police report that they think the public will find interesting or entertaining.
The First Amendment protects the freedom of the press to publish whatever they find newsworthy. And Florida law makes most police reports, mugshots, and body or dash-cam videos public records that anyone can access. The best way to ensure your interaction with law enforcement officials doesn’t wind up on the front page is to remain calm and keep your mouth shut if you are questioned by police. This also happens to be the best way to keep yourself out of legal trouble.
When a law enforcement officer is questioning you, everything you do, from your eye movements and mannerisms to where you say you are headed, is being evaluated by the officer to determine whether there is a reasonable suspicion to escalate the interaction and arrest you. Don’t give the officer any extra material to work with. Be polite but not chatty. Give them your name and identification materials if requested, but don’t feel like you need to answer any additional questions or make small talk.
Once the officer returns your identification forms, ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, leave. If the officer says no, tell him or her that you are choosing to remain silent and you want a lawyer — then don’t say or do anything else without your lawyer present. If the officer dodges the question and attempts to engage you in conversation, they are trying to trap you. Don’t take the bait. Once again ask if you can leave.
If you keep talking, anything you say is fair game for the officer’s report and may be recorded on video. If you say something stupid, you may get yourself ticketed, arrested, or wind up a media darling.
Contact Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC Today
If you or a loved one in the Miami area has been charged with a crime and are worried the media coverage is hurting your case, Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC is here to help. Give us a call, tell us your story, and trust us to protect your future.
Posted in: DUI