DUI Cases in Pasco County

Whether you took a breath, blood, or urine test or refused to submit, call the DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm. Our office is conveniently located in New Port Richey, directly across from the West Pasco Judicial Center courthouse.

Find out more about demanding a “formal review hearing” within the first ten (10) days after your arrest. Don’t waive your rights by seeking immediate reinstatement of hardship privileges until you speak with an attorney about the pros and cons of each approach.

If you took the breath test at the Land O’Lakes Jail, you should be aware of problems with the alcohol testing program at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Over the years, we’ve also uncovered serious breath testing problems at the police departments in Dade City and New Port Richey.

Some of the monthly inspections on the breath test machines failed. In some cases, the agency inspectors have violated the administrative rules while trying to keep the breath test machine online instead of sending it out for costly repairs.

If the rules are not followed, your attorney can file a motion to exclude the breath test reading at trial. When the court excludes evidence, the entire DUI case might be dismissed or reduced to a less severe charge.

We also represent clients accused of refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. In those cases, evidence of the alleged refusal might be excluded at trial if the officer did not read the implied consent warning correctly.

You might qualify for the new DUI D.R.O.P. diversion program in Pasco County, FL, for a first DUI.

Attorney for a DUI in Pasco County, FL

After an arrest for DUI in Pasco County, FL, your case will be prosecuted at the courthouse in Dade City or New Port Richey. The six attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are focused on criminal and DUI defense. We are experienced in fighting DUI cases throughout Pasco County, FL, and the surrounding areas.

Contact us to schedule an appointment at our office at 7509 Little Road, New Port Richey, FL, 34654, directly across from the courthouse.

The decisions you make in the first few days after your arrest may tremendously impact how your case is ultimately resolved. Just because you were arrested for DUI does NOT mean you will be convicted.

The best result in these cases is getting the prosecutor to drop the charges or getting the court to dismiss the charges. You might also be able to avoid a DUI conviction if the charge is reduced to reckless or careless driving. Only by speaking directly with an experienced attorney can you learn about defenses that might apply to your case.

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for DUI defense in New Port Richey and Dade City for a first DUI or a second DUI arrest. Discuss your case directly with an attorney during a free and confidential consultation. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call 727-807-6392 today.

Uncovering Police Misconduct in Pasco County, FL

To learn more, watch a quick video showing how one of our attorneys, Jason Sammis, uncovered evidence of police misconduct at a DUI checkpoint in Pasco County, FL, which led to the dismissal of a charge of DUI.

Protecting Your Driver’s License to Drive after a DUI

After your arrest, you have just ten (10) days to file a demand for a “formal review hearing” with the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).

After an arrest in Pasco County, the demand must be filed at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office in Clearwater, FL. It is crucial to have an experienced DUI attorney represent you at the formal review hearing to protect your driver’s license.

If you do not file for a formal review hearing within ten (10) days, then you will suffer a hard suspension for either 30 days (if your BAC was over .08) or 90 days (if you refused to submit to a BAC test). Although you can seek immediate reinstatement of your hardship driving privileges to avoid the hard suspension, doing so requires you to WAIVE your rights and stipulate to the DUI for administrative purposes.

That notation on your driving record that you were found to be DUI for administrative purposes will stay on your driving record for 75 years. For this reason, we ALWAYS recommend that our clients let us demand their formal review hearing within the first ten (10) days after the arrest.

Deciding whether to waive all your rights or request a FORMAL review hearing is one of the most important decisions you will make in the case.

Suppose your attorney files for the formal review hearing and your license is otherwise valid. In that case, you will be issued a 42-day driving permit so that you can continue to drive for hardship purposes while your attorney fights to invalidate the administrative suspension.

The formal review hearing is one of the most critical stages of your DUI case in Pasco County, FL, because it allows your DUI attorney to question each of the state’s witnesses against you under oath.

We can subpoena the officer who conducted the traffic stop or the roadside agility exercises, any backup officer at the scene, the breath test technician, and the agency inspector who maintains the breathalyzer machines used in Pasco County, FL.

The evidence gathered at the formal review hearing might also play an essential role in fighting the criminal charges. A transcript from that formal review hearing can be used to impeach the witnesses if they change their story at a hearing or trial in a criminal case.

The transcript might also help your attorney convince the prosecutor in the criminal case to reduce the charges.

Fight the Criminal DUI Charge in Pasco County, FL

You must answer the criminal charges at the Pasco County Courthouse in either Dade City or New Port Richey, Florida. Your attorney can attend court on your behalf. Your attorney might file motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the DUI charges on your behalf.

After a DUI arrest in Pasco County, the subject is taken to the jail at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in 20101 Central Blvd, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34637. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has five (5) breath test machines called the Intoxilyzer 8000. A different serial number identifies each machine. The following breathalyzer machines are registered to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office:

  • 80-001081
  • 80-001049
  • 80-001074
  • 80-001117
  • 80-003347

The breath testing program in Pasco County has serious problems. In fact, in 2015, Pasco County had three different agency inspectors. In 2017, the agency inspector changed again from Cpl. Adam D. Cinelli to Sgt. Art Rowland.

After Sgt. Rowland took over as the agency inspector in July 2017, but the problems with keeping the machines in compliance continued. The current agency inspector is Barry Nixon, who started doing the agency inspections in December of 2017.

We previously caught the agency inspectors in Pasco County backspacing and intentionally deleting error warning messages that occurred during monthly agency inspections. Other problems resulted in the machines not being in compliance with the administrative rules.

The deletion of error messages is a significant problem because the agency inspector is required to report the results of the test to FDLE. Judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys rely on those error messages to understand whether the machine is working correctly. Error messages can include:

  • Interferent Detect (Int Det)
  • Radio Frequency Interference (RFI Detect)
  • Control Outside Tolerance
  • AF/MA (alcohol-free/mouth alcohol)
  • Ambient Fail

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are filing and litigating motions attacking breath test readings taken at the time that the Intoxilyzer 8000 was not in substantial compliance with the administrative rules. At Sammis Law Firm, we take DUI breath test cases very seriously. We conduct an audit on the particular breath test machine used in your case.

We can show you the log login records, the annual inspection, monthly inspections, repair records, and other subject tests. Before deciding how to resolve your case, you should understand any problems with the breath test machine used in your case. We are familiar with the tactics used by the DUI enforcement officers in Pasco County.

If the problems are severe, your attorney can file a motion to exclude the breath test results from the trial because of a lack of substantial compliance with the rules. Even if that motion is denied and the jury sees the results, your attorney can show all the problems with how monthly inspections were conducted.

Call us to discuss any DUI breath test in Pasco County, including a breath test case being prosecuted at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City, FL.

Refusal to Submit to Alcohol Testing in Pasco County, FL

Suppose you accept the privilege of operating a motor vehicle in Florida. In that case, you are deemed to have given your consent to submit to an approved test of the alcohol content of his or her blood, breath, or urine as provided in Section 316.1932(1)(a)1.a., F.S.

The Department of Motor Vehicles will administratively suspend a person’s driving privileges for one (1) year after the first refusal of alcohol testing as provided in Section 322.2615(1)(b)1.a., F.S.

Within ten (10) days of the arrest, you should demand a formal review hearing to contest the administrative suspension. At the hearing, your attorney can subpoena any of the witnesses listed in the documents, including the stop office, the arresting officer, and any backup officer.

At the hearing, your attorney can contest whether the test was requested incidental to a lawful arrest and administered at the request of a law enforcement officer who has a reasonable belief such person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances.

Your DUI attorney might uncover problems with how the implied consent warning was read or whether you refused to submit to testing.

Evidence gained during the formal review hearing can also be used to fight your DUI refusal case in Pasco County at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City, FL.

Penalties for a Second Refusal to Submit to Testing

The second refusal to submit to a lawfully requested test will result in an administrative suspension as well as criminal charges.

A second refusal occurs when a person’s driving privileges are suspended for a prior refusal, and the person then refuses to submit to an alcohol test for a second time as provided in Section 316.1939(1)(c), F.S.

For the administrative suspension, the driver’s license can be suspended by the DHMSV for 18 months. For this reason, it is particularly important to contest the administrative suspension by demanding a formal review hearing within ten (10) days.

In addition to the DUI charge, the second refusal can result in an additional charge for a first-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Read more about the penalties for a second refusal or a second DUI conviction in Pasco County, FL.

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office General Order 61.8 for DUI Investigations

General Order 61.8 (effective July 31, 2006) was issued by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to establish guidelines for conducting driving under the influence (DUI) investigations.

These standard operating procedures apply to all law enforcement deputies with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office who perform DUI investigations, testing, arrests, and administrative license suspension duties. Those duties MUST be performed in accordance with these rules.

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office trains its officers to look for certain indicators when investigating possible DUI cases. The officers are trained to look for certain vehicle maneuvers that may indicate alcohol intoxication or impairment after using drugs, including:

  1. Turning with a wide radius;
  2. Straddling the centerline or lane markers;
  3. Near collisions;
  4. Weaving, swerving or drifting on the roadway;
  5. Driving off the roadway;
  6. Driving into the oncoming traffic lane;
  7. Traveling more than 10 mph below the posted speed limit;
  8. Stopping on the roadway without cause;
  9. Following too closely;
  10. Braking erratically;
  11. Signaling inconsistent with driving patterns;
  12. Slow response to traffic signals;
  13. Sudden or illegal turns;
  14. Rapid deceleration or acceleration; and
  15. Driving without headlights after dark.

After a traffic stop, law enforcement officers in Pasco County are trained to make specific observations while performing traffic stops. Officers will observe whether the driver pulled over safely and immediately and whether he or she gave any explanation for the observed difficulty driving. The officer will request the driver’s license, insurance card, and vehicle registration.

During the initial observation, the DUI enforcement officer is trained to look for the following clues of impairment:

  1. Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, crying;
  2. Irrational behavior or belligerence;
  3. Disheveled or soiled clothing;
  4. Inability to operate windows and/or doors, or lack of dexterity and inability to find ID;
  5. The odor of an alcoholic beverage or marijuana.

The PCSO officer will also look for contraband within plain view, including open containers of alcoholic beverage, legal or illegal controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia.

The officer is also trained to document any pre-Miranda questions or admissions that can assist the officer in finding reasonable suspicion of impairment.

The Bond Amount for Driving and Boating under the Influence in Pasco County

The bond amounts for DUI and boating under the influence (BUI) in Pasco County, FL, are similar. For instance, for both DUI and BUI crimes with Property Damage as a 1st or 2nd offense under §316.193(3)(c)1, or §327.35(3)(c)1, Fla. Stat., the low bond amount is $250, the high bond amount is $1,000, and the recommended bond amount is $500.

For DUI or BUI with Property Damage or as a 3rd offense under §316.193(3)(c)1, or §327.35(3)(c)1, Fla. Stat., the low bond amount is $500, the high bond amount is $1,000, and the recommended bond amount is $1,000.

Exceptions to these bond amounts apply for the following:

  • DUI or BUI with No Property Damage as a 1st or 2nd offense under §316.193(2)(a) or §327.35(2)(a); or
  • DUI or BUI with No Property Damage as a 3rd offense under §316.193(2)(a) or §327.35(2)(a), Fla. Stat.

After an arrest for DUI, Florida law requires the defendant is to be held in jail until the person’s blood-alcohol level or breath is below 0.05 or eight (8) hours have elapsed from the time the person was arrested.

Statistics on the Number of DUI Cases Filed in Pasco County, FL

According to the 2016-17 Statistical Reference Guide for County Criminal, published by the Florida Office of the State Courts Administrator in Pasco County, there were:

  • 531 driving under the influence (DUI) cases;
  • 2,388 non-driving under the influence (DUI) criminal traffic; and
  • 9,578 misdemeanor and ordinances violations filed.

Additional Resources

Pasco County DUI School – If you are required to enroll in and complete DUI school in order to get your driver’s license reinstated after an administrative suspension or a court-ordered suspension, then you must enroll in the county where you live, work, or attend school. The DUI school in Pasco County is known as Pride Integrated Services, Inc., with locations in New Port Richey and Zephyrhills.

New Port Richey DUI School with Pride Integrated Services, Inc.
7619 Little Road, Suite 350
New Port Richey, FL 34654
(727) 847-3411
Zephyrhills DUI School with Pride Integrated Services, Inc.
5014 Mission Square
Zephyrhills, FL

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office DUI Enforcement Unit – Read more about the Wolf Packs and Selective Traffic Enforcement Patrol Unit (called “STEP”) for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. STEP is made up of six deputies and a sergeant who look for suspected drunk drivers. STEP focuses patrol efforts near high crash intersections as determined by traffic statisticians. STEP and the Motor Unit and Patrol Operations use Strategic Traffic Accident Reduction Tactics (“START”) to find locations to target. The website provides a list of law enforcement activities in Pasco County, including scheduled sobriety checkpoints, aggressive driving enforcement, and DUI saturation patrols.

New Port Richey Police Department – In 2009, the New Port Richey Police Department made 1,154 DUI arrests. Most of the arrests were made by patrol officers. The breath testing program of the NPRPD uses an Intoxilyzer 8000 with serial number 80-001064. The current agency inspector for the breath test machine in New Port Richey is Patrol Bureau Sergeant Jason S. Engel.

Port Richey Police Department – Law enforcement officers with the Port Richey Police Department take part in special DUI Wolf Pack details as well as other city and countywide traffic enforcement efforts. The Port Richey Police Department takes an aggressive approach towards D.U.I. traffic enforcement. Several of the officers received training in the operation of the only breath test instrument (breathalyzer) used in Florida, known as the Intoxilyzer 8000. DUI enforcement officers in Port Richey, FL, have also received training in Road Side Sobriety Testing and Radar/Laser Operation. In 2010, the department had its first officer trained as a Drug Recognition Expert. In 2009, the police department issued 4,547 traffic citations with 58 of those citations were for D.U.I.

Zephyrhills Police Department – Read more about the Uniform Patrol Section and Operations Division for DUI investigations in Zephyrhills, Florida. The alcohol breath testing program in the Zephyrhills Police Department uses the Intoxilyzer 8000 with serial number 80-001076. Sgt. Nathan Gardner is the agency inspector.

Dade City Police Department – Ray Velboom, Chief of the Dade City Police Department, represents 24 sworn officers and more than 16 civilian employees for the county seat of Pasco County, FL. The Intoxilyzer 8000 machines used by the Dade City Police Department includes the Intoxilyzer 8000 with serial number 80-001073 and 80-005477. The current agency inspector is Officer Dean Baldwin.

DUI Defense Attorneys in New Port Richey, FL – Visit the NCDD website to find a list of DUI defense attorneys with offices in New Port Richey, FL.

Finding a DUI Lawyer in Pasco County, FL

Florida law provides for two alternative theories for proving DUI offenses under 316.193(1)(a), (b):

  • Driving while one’s normal faculties are impaired is often called the “impairment theory” which can be proven by;
    • Evidence showing impairment of normal faculties; or
    • Presumption of impairment for a breath/blood alcohol reading above .08.
  •  Driving with a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is often called the “DUBAL,” a strict liability offense. See Cardenas v. State, 867 So.2d 384 (Fla. 2004).
    • The court in Euceda v. State, 711 So.2d 122 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998), explained that although the jury must be unanimous on finding that the Defendant committed the offense of DUI but not whether it was because of impairment or for driving in excess of .08.

After an arrest for DUI under either theory in Pasco County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We fight charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs throughout the county. Whether your case is being prosecuted at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City, we can help.

From our offices in New Port Richey, our attorneys represent clients after an arrest for DUI by one of the five (5) law enforcement agencies in Pasco County, including:

We represent clients after a breath test, blood test, urine test, or refusal to submit to testing. The penalties are more serious you were involved in a crash that caused property damage or personal injury. We also represent commercial drivers or CDL holders or anyone arrested for DUI in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

Our attorneys focus on drunk driving defense in New Port Richey and Dade City. We provide free consultations over the phone or in the office to discuss the case.

Call 727-807-6392.

This article was last updated on Friday, December 17, 2021.