Restaurateur Alan Laird, the owner of a popular Destin oyster and seafood bar, is in double trouble at the moment with the law. He has been charged with his fourth DUI as well as a suspended license charge. He has already been charged last month for stalking.
The bar owner, who has recently seen his bar climb to no. 40 in the nation's top nightlife haunts and the only location in North West Florida apart from one other, was spotted allegedly speeding in Destin by an Okaloosa County deputy who apparently instantly recognized Laird's vehicle from a previous encounter.
The bar owner allegedly smelt of a "strong odor" of alcohol and the deputy detained him while he checked his driving license. Laird allegedly was driving at the time he was stopped on a suspended license. He was then arrested by the deputy on a suspended driving license charge and he was then taken to a police station to test his alcohol content.
It has been alleged that Laird refused to take an alcohol test, but despite this he was charged with a DUI. This is his fourth DUI charge for which Laird faces a felony conviction in the third degree. If this is sustained, there are various penalties which could be imposed on him, none of which he is going to be happy about.
Apparently, Laird has already had DUI offenses in the past dating back to 2003, 2006 and 2007. If he is convicted of a fourth DUI offense it not only becomes a felony charge for the first time, but the penalties could be harsh.
Florida statutes 775.082 and 775.083 state the maximum penalties for imprisonment and fines that Laird could face. This includes a maximum prison sentence of 5 years and a maximum fine of $5,000. The minimum fine for a felony conviction in the third degree is $2,000.
These are not the only sanctions that might worry the AJ's Club Bimini owner - he could lose his license altogether. If he manages to hold on to it, it is very likely that when he recovers driving privileges, he will have to use an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to 2 years. The IID ensures that the driver cannot start the car unless he (or she) has blown into a sensor that detects alcohol on the person's breath. If alcohol is detected, then the car cannot be started.
All of these penalties are likely to have a serious effect on Alan Laird's life and the operations of his business, so it is likely that he will be using a very good DUI defense lawyer to help in his defense against the charges.
If this was the only legal problem, it would be enough for any business owner, but Alan Laird also faces a totally unrelated stalking charge which was imposed on him last month. It has been alleged by Laird's former girlfriend that he has stalked her by sending her a series of cell phone messages that insinuated that he wanted her "to die". The girlfriend alleges that he sent her 32 messages in as many minutes on 13th October this year.
Florida statute 784.048 defines what stalking is and lays out the statutes which detail the possible penalties. Stalking of the type alleged by Laird's girlfriend could mean a second felony conviction in the third degree for the bar owner if the charges are sustained at a subsequent trial.
Every defendant has the right to be defended by a competent and experienced criminal defense attorney, whether they have been charged several times before, or it is the first time. No one in this country is guilty until evidence has been presented that can establish a person's guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
If you have been arrested for DUI, or any other charge which could lead to a criminal conviction, the sooner you are represented by a defense lawyer the better.