• Disordely Intoxication Charge for Young Professional Dropped

Not Guilty in St. Petersburg DUI Trial for 2nd Time DUI

By |2024-02-29T12:50:25-05:00February 29th, 2024|Categories: Success Stories|Tags: , , |

Attorneys Sean McQuaid and Ranger Jackson won a challenging DUI trial at the Pinellas Justice Center this week. The case stemmed from an arrest by St. Petersburg Police for DUI and Driving on a Suspended License. It was our client’s second DUI and he faced a lengthy jail sentence and 5 year driver’s license suspension. Going to trial was very risky. After hearing the case, the jury took only 17 minutes to acquit our client. He also avoided jail on the suspended license charge. It was an amazing job by Sean and Ranger! Our client is beyond grateful.

This was the second time that our office represented this client. He had been charged with his first DUI in 2021. He had completed all of the penalties from that case but failed to reinstate his driver’s license. Thus, it was suspended and he was not allowed to drive.

In April 2023, while driving North on 4th St. in St. Petersburg, an officer ran his tag and pulled him over for driving on a suspended license. When she spoke to him, he was evasive and she suspected that he was impaired from alcohol. She took him out of his vehicle, checked his eyes and then called for backup. Our client then refused to participate in any further exercises and was arrested. He also refused to blow into the intoxilyzer, this is known as a double refusal. Double refusal cases are frowned upon by prosecutors and they are usually unwilling to negotiate as a result.

He was in serious trouble because of the fact he was still driving on the suspension from the first DUI when he was arrested for this second DUI. But, he was adamant that he was not impaired and hired us again to help. We pled not guilty and got copies of the police reports and video. When we reviewed them, we saw that he looked good. We thought that he looked a little stunned, but not impaired. There was also very little evidence. The entire video was only 8 minutes. We thought that we could win- but it was a risk. If he lost the trial, the judge would surely put him in jail for months and he would lose his driver’s license for 5 years. He decided it was worth the risk, so we went to trial.

We picked a jury and felt good about it. The State Attorney’s Office called one witness- the arresting officer from the St. Petersburg Police Department. She did her best to lay out the case, but had never testified in court before. It showed. In her desperation to win, she came across as willing to say anything and to give any excuse. Sean McQuaid cross examined her and made her look foolish. He was able to point out several flaws in her in investigation. Her answers to his tough questions made her look silly.

 

Perhaps one of the most stunning moments in the trial was when Ranger Jackson called the backup officer to the stand. Despite watching the entire investigation and being only a few feet away from our client, the backup officer said that she did not observe any signs of impairment. It completely contradicted the testimony from the arresting officer. Ranger did a great job and sealed the win.

The jury was out only 17 minutes before they returned a verdict of not guilty. But, we still had to deal with the suspended license charge. Fortunately, the judge took mercy and decided to lecture our client rather than punish him. She was confident that he had learned his lesson and gave him only a fine on the suspended license charge.

Yes, we won the trial and are proud of our work. The trial was hard fought. The prosecutors from the State Attorney’s Office were tough and smart. On a different day with a different jury, the outcome might have been different. But, the most important legacy of this case is that our client has straightened out his life. He has learned his lesson and knows that he dodged a bullet. He has matured greatly and will never be a danger on the roads again.

Sean McQuaid