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A Troublesome Case Ends with No DUI and No Jail, Because Words Have Meanings

January 2020

When we were first contacted by our client, it looked like it was going to be a difficult case. Although his driving was fine, he had been called in to 911 following a confrontation in a bar over a pool game. Our client was not blameless. In addition, he had prior DUI arrests and convictions. The State Attorney was asking for a substantial jail sentence.

Investigation of the case, and depositions of the officers revealed that police were called out because of an "altercation" at a local bar. An officer traveling to the scene saw our client driving (normally), and pulled him over because of the radio call about an "altercation." However, the police are only allowed to stop a citizen when they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. 

According to, an "altercation" is not a crime.

Altercation (n.)
A noisy, heated, angry dispute
He got into several altercations with his boss.
also : noisy controversy

So while the police are allowed to investigate altercations, they are not allowed to stop a car, merely because there is a claim that the driver was in a "noisy, heated, angry dispute." It's just not a crime.

The State Attorney on the case agreed that the court was unlikely to uphold the traffic stop, and so all of the evidence produced by the stop, including the observations of our client, our client's admissions, and the refusal to take a breath test, would not be admissible in court. 

As a result, the case was resolved by a plea bargain with no DUI conviction. And more importantly, no jail time.

Practice area(s): DUI / DWI

Court: Sarasota County Court

Tom Hudson

Known nationwide as a leading DUI defense lawyer, Tom has tried over 350 jury trials, including numerous death penalty cases. He now limits his criminal practice to DUI defense. His civil practice is devoted to getting fair compensation for the victims of negligence. Tom has attained multiple verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million, and is a Life Member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In 2008, Tom Hudson passed the National Board Certification Test for DUI Attorneys in Honolulu, Hawaii. NOTE: The State of Florida does not yet recognize DUI defense as a Specialty.

Why We're Different

Board Certification as a DUI Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense. Formal NHTSA Certification as an Instructor of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests given by police in DUI cases. Formal training as a NHTSA Drug Recognition Evaluator. ("Drug Evaluation & Classification") Formal training to operate the Intoxilyzer 8000, Florida's official breath test instrument. Extensive experience in teaching other attorneys how to handle DUI cases. Hundreds of jury trials both as defense lawyer and as prosecutor.