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Defendant Learns the Hard Way: a Dying Cat Is Not a DUI Defense

A Tampa man was arrested for a DUI by a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy after having been originally pulled over for driving 84 miles per hour and swerving through three lanes on the highway on October 20, 2010. In trial, the man never defended against the charge of being under the influence, his third DUI charge in the past 10 years; he simply offered justification for his actions. He put forward a "defense of necessity", saying that he was driving a desperately sick cat to the veterinarian and he was the only who could drive to get help. The clinic was close to the exit ramp where the defendant was pulled over. The cat died around the time of the police stop.

The defendant was convicted of a felony DUI. When this conviction was appealed, three judges in an appellate court did not accept his line of defense either. This past Wednesday the 18th of September, the court ruled that a defense of necessity only applies to cases where a person's health is in peril, only when someone must "avoid an imminent threat of danger or serious bodily injury to himself or others. We do not interpret the phrase 'or other' as applying to animals".

A felony DUI such as this could mean up to 5 years in prison and as much as $5,000 in fines. After the sentence, this would mean living as a convicted felon. This charge is a very serious matter, one that requires a real defense. If you have been charged with any DUI, then you need to safeguard your freedoms. Learn the real defenses available to you when you work with a Tampa DUI defense attorney from our firm. Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. immediately. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tampa DUI Defense Attorney Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Attorneys at Law