A Gainesville Police Department officer observed a vehicle driving without headlights activated at night. The officer noted obvious signs of impairment and requested backup. The responding officer made contact with the driver and immediately noticed a strong odor of alcohol emitting from his person and breath. The driver had glassy, watery, bloodshot eyes and was slurring his speech.
The driver consented to field sobriety exercises, but did not perform well. During the horizontal gaze nystagmus exercise the driver lacked smooth pursuit in both eyes and both eyes jerked at maximum deviation and prior to the 45 degree points. The driver fell off the line multiple times during the walk and turn exercise, missed heel to toe contact on many steps, and failed to turn properly. During the one leg stand exercise the driver swayed, placed his foot on the ground, and was fifteen seconds off count. The driver swayed, missed the tip of his nose, and failed to point forward during the finger to nose exercise. The driver was placed under arrest and read implied consent on the scene. The driver agreed to provide a breath sample and blew 0.183g/210L and 0.183g/210L. The driver stated that he had nothing to drink.
Originally, the State offered a plea deal for the charge of DUI above .15, $1,000 fine, and six months of an ignition interlock device placed on the driver’s vehicle. After retaining Meldon Law, we were able to negotiate with the State Attorney’s office to reduce the charge to DUI above .08 but below .15 despite the driver’s breath test results. This reduced the fine to only $500 and eliminated the need for a vehicle ignition interlock device.