aerial view of road with water on both sides

Well common sense finally prevailed and Florida is now a more welcoming State to the millions of foreign visitors who drive our roads every year. The Governor signed a bill which repealed the old law that had required foreignors to obtain an international driver’s license.

As you can imagine, having such a requirement was causing anxiety, specifically amongst the over 1 million Canadian tourists who visit Florida, many of whom did not have an international driver’s license and were in a panic, that if caught driving, they would be thrown in jail. Additionally, there was concern that foreign visitors would not be allowed to rent a car. A legitimate concern in Florida.

Therefore, effective immediately, an international driver’s license in Florida is no longer required to drive.

Does this mean the problem is over and everyone driving has a valid license? Hardly.

A person must have a valid license from their country of origin or they do run the risk of being given a ticket for driving without a license, or worse. Keep reading.

Sadly, what is still all too common are the potentially millions of foreign driver’s who are here illegally and whose licenses from their countries of origin have expired.

In other words, people who came here on a tourist visa, got a license which was valid as long as the visa, and decided to stay.  However, when the date expires, they are obviously not allowed to drive anymore.

But do they stop driving??? Of course not.

Can they get a license at the local DMV??? Of course not.

So where does that leave us? Well, basically, there are a ton of people driving on our roads in Florida with either an expired foreign driver’s license or an expired Florida driver’s license they cannot renew.

Why should you care? Well, for starters, having an invalid license usually means you can’t get insurance. If a person can’t get insurance and drives, guess who pays when there’s an accident? Bingo!!! The person who has insurance.

Additionally, many people allow someone to drive their car and have not even considered asking if they have a valid license. (Honestly, how many times have you asked to look at a person’s license before they’ve driven your car).

Why is that a problem? Very simply, if you allow a person to drive your car, and that person does not have a valid license, you are on the hook for whatever happens when they are driving. If they get in an accident, it is very likely your insurance company will deny coverage, as they did not agree to insure a driver without a valid license. And no, it’s not going to work if you “play dumb” and tell the insurance company you didn’t know the person didn’t have a valid license.

If you are one of the many unlicensed foreign drivers out there, be careful.  You not only can get thrown in jail but deported if you are found to have violated a law by driving without a valid license.

If you have a ticket for driving on an expired license (foreign or domestic), we’ll be happy to give you a free consultation. There are defenses that may work to keep you out of jail or keep you from being deported. Call us at 866-374-8355 and we’ll be happy to talk to you.

people at a gun show

Have you ever gone to a gun show in Florida with a friend and purchased a gun? Did you know doing that can land you in jail if it’s considered a “straw purchase?”

Let’s say you and friend decide to head to the local gun show. While at the gun show you decide to purchase three handguns and your friend decides he’d like to purchase two firearms. Nothing unusual to you, as you like to collect firearms and you have routinely gone target/sports shooting with your friend.

When it comes time for your purchase, your friend realizes that he left his ID home and asks if you could buy the two guns on his behalf. You agree, and fill out the necessary forms and purchase the two firearms thinking if he does not pay you the money, you would keep them for yourself.

You both leave the gun show. He comes by a week later and obtains the firearms from you and pays you the money. In your mind, you’ve done nothing wrong and move on with your life.

However, a month later two gentlemen come to your home, ATF agents, and ask if they could come in and speak with you regarding the purchase of firearms. They begin by asking you if you purchased any guns recently.

Your natural instinct is to respond to the question; as you believe you have legally purchased the firearms and filled out all the necessary documents.

Then they begin to ask questions as to the location of the firearms. You want to be cooperative but start to think something is wrong. You inform them that three of the firearms are with you but the other two are at a friend’s house. They request to meet with you the next day, to give you an opportunity to produce the other firearm.

Unfortunately for you, you come to find out that your friend decided to sell the firearms to someone he met at the local bar.

Again, feeling there was nothing wrong with the purchase, you explain to the agents everything that happened. The agents leave and tell you they would like for you to come in for a recorded interview, and you agree.

What you have also discovered, is that your friend has done this a number of times to others in the past two years and some of the firearms he purchased are now in a foreign country.

You are later charged with multiple federal crimes.

  1. Making a false statement that was material to the lawfulness of a firearm sale; and
  2. Making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept in the records of a licensed firearms dealer.

Your argument is that there was no deception, as your intent at the time you completed the forms was to keep the firearms and that your friend’s payment may or may not have occurred; and the sale to him at a later date was a lawful private sale.

In some circuits this may be a great argument, however; in Florida, in the eleventh circuit, the prosecutor is likely to take the view that the identity of the true purchaser, lawful or unlawful, is material to the lawfulness of the purchased firearm.

This is why you may need a lawyer. If any of the above has ever happened to you, or if you are concerned it may happen to you, call our office and ask to speak to Charlie Levy and take advantage of a FREE consultation. Meeting with an attorney before speaking to the government can significantly change the outcome of the case in your favor.

Call 866-374-8355 or email Charlie at [email protected]

This article was written by Charlie Levy, Esq., a criminal defense attorney for almost 20 years. He has defended many people charged with felony gun purchase/possession as well as those accused of making false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm.

police officer being handed identification

Here we go with another installment in how to fight a speeding ticket in Florida.

Almost all speeding tickets will be written after an officer captures your speed on a speed measuring device. This device is basically a machine that determines how long it took you to go from one point to another and does some quick math and BOOM! your speed pops up.

There are times an officer will witness your speed independent of any electronic assistance and issue you a ticket, but you would have to be flying and probably committing some other offense such as weaving in and out of traffic for this to happen. Even in that situation, the chances are an officer would cite you for something other than speeding because of the difficulty of proving your speed with nothing more than an eyewitness evaluation.

So, if we agree that most speeding tickets are going to be written with the aid of a machine, does this mean you are dead in the water? Hardly, these machines all make mistakes, just like the human beings running them.

The first thing you need to know is that every one of the different types of devices used by the police must be checked, certified and calibrated every few months. The purpose of this should be quite obvious. If the government is going to rely on a piece of equipment to determine your speed and issue a speeding ticket, they need to be certain that the device is actually working properly. If you are traveling at 35 miles an hour, the device can’t say you were going 59 mph.

As you can imagine, the more “requirements” the government has as it relates to having to prove anything in court, the more “opportunity” you have when they can’t meet their requirement. Paperwork can get lost or misplaced before your trial, and if the officer can’t produce what’s necessary, the case will be dismissed.

Now in addition to being able to show that the device the officer relied on was actually working properly, the officer is required to keep a daily log showing that the machine was tested the day your ticket was issued. Again, if this document is not ready on the day of your trial, you’re looking pretty good.

The other important piece of paper the officer must be able to produce is one that relates to the officer’s ability to work these various speed measuring devices. I mean, let’s be honest, there must be more to using a radar gun than just aiming and shooting moving targets. Thankfully there is, and the officers must undergo training and complete all the required testing in order to become “certified.”

If you’re following the pattern, you will probably see this coming, but certification requires documentation and if they don’t bring it to court, you can try and get the case dismissed on these grounds.

It’s important to know that when you challenge a matter in court, the State (in a traffic matter, the police officer represents the state) has the burden of going first and presenting all the evidence against you. You (or your attorney if you’ve hired one) have the right to look at this evidence and question the validity or inquire as to the accuracy of what’s being offered against you.

If you feel intimidated or overwhelmed, you can hire an attorney to go on your behalf. I’ve written extensively on this blog about some of the benefits to hiring a traffic attorney, but you can read the five questions you must ask before hiring a traffic attorney by clicking this link or the button below.

Police man about to give a traffic ticket to white car

I’ve written on the topic of driving without insurance for years now and no matter how many ways I try to point out why people shouldn’t do it, the percentage of uninsured drivers hasn’t changed.

Well I don’t think I can change the world with this blog, but if I can reach one of you, I’ll be happy. Here’s why. Driving without insurance is one of the quickest ways to screw up your life. Yes, I said your life. 

When you drive without insurance, you are subjecting yourself to an immediate suspension of your driving privilege. Alright, I admit, having your license suspended isn’t screwing your life up. But let’s take it a step further. Let’s say you drive without insurance, because you were trying to save money, and you get into an accident. Want to guess when you’ll get your license back? No time soon.

Chances are, if you are involved in an auto accident, there will be damages to either a person or property. Without insurance, guess who’s going to be picking up the tab? You guessed it. . . you. And guess who’s going to be without a license until all the damages are paid off? You guessed right again. . .you.

Is it really worth it to lose your license and have a judgment against you that will keep you from ever getting your driver’s license back? Because of something as easily avoidable as driving without insurance?

Recently in Florida, there was a crackdown of uninsured drivers and what they found was that almost 24% of drivers did not have insurance.  Now what was even crazier were the number of people who were carrying fake insurance information.  This is a felony!!!

We’ve documented on our blog the scam people are getting away with when they are involved in an accident. Basically, there are people who have a fake driver’s license in their wallet, and if they are involved in an accident, they hand you the fake id and tell you they will meet you on the side of the road. After you move your cars out of traffic, instead of pulling over, they keep going, leaving you with a fake driver’s license and no way to contact them.

I guess if people are willing to go through the trouble of printing a fake driver’s license, the idea of having a fake insurance card is no biggie.

Again, I ask the question. Is it really worth it to go through the trouble, and risk going to jail, for having fake insurance and/or driving without insurance? There are so many insurance programs out there that you can surely find one within your budget.

If you have a ticket for driving without insurance and want to fight it, we can assist you. There are things that can be done to mitigate your damages, including getting SR-22 insurance. Additionally, we can certainly point you in the direction of an insurance agent that will find the most cost-effective insurance. At the end of the day, there must be a better place to try and save money.

If you have a question about an insurance ticket, or just have a question about insurance, feel free to call us at

two people looking at the results of their car accident
careless driving ticket

Careless driving tickets are usually given out when someone is involved in an accident.  It’s the “catch-all” used by officers who arrive on the scene and look at the damage and determine who should get the ticket for their “careless” driving.

The reality is, the person who received a Florida careless driving ticket may not have deserved it all, and for 3 reasons, we always recommend fighting them.

1)  The police officer probably didn’t witness the accident 2)  Your word against another individual (not a police officer) 3)  Accident reports are not admissible in court in Florida

The first, and without a doubt, single biggest reason to always fight your careless driving ticket is because in almost every situation, the police officer didn’t witness the accident. THIS IS HUGE.

Because the officer did not witness the accident, the officer cannot testify in court as to exactly what happened./p>

Who can testify?  Anyone who may have seen or heard something. That’s it./p>

So when an officer shows up in court, they are usually asked one question by a traffic attorney representing their client.  “Officer, did you witness the accident?”  When the officer answers “no,” they can’t really testify to anything else in the case that can hurt the defendant./p>

The next reason is an outflow of the first reason.  If the officer can’t testify to exactly what caused the accident, the state is left with the other person(s) involved in the accident or any other witnesses who stuck around to give their name to the police officer./p>

This is great for a traffic attorney for the simple reason that most police officers testify in court all the time.  They are professionals and they know the elements of the charge that are necessary for the ticket to stick.  On the other hand, most individuals are nervous when they have to testify.  Most people do not fully understand what they are testifying to in court and the importance of certain pieces of information that are critical to the state being able to make its case./p>

Being able to put the defendant behind the wheel is something that officers are taught to do when testifying in court because, without that information, the judge cannot assume the defendant was the one driving.  Because, as previously stated, the officers generally arrive on the scene when both parties are out of their cars, the officer cannot testify as to who was driving and most people forget that in their testimony.  A good traffic attorney will seize on that to get the matter dismissed./p>

An unwritten law in traffic court that also applies here and helps defendants who fight careless driving tickets, is that an officer’s word is practically unquestioned by the judge.  For a variety of reasons, it is just assumed that the officer is telling the truth and has no reason not to tell the truth.  However, because there is no officer testifying, the defendant is on equal grounds with his/her accuser.  This is an often overlooked benefit to fighting careless driving tickets./p>

Lastly, many people call my office and are very upset because of what the accident report states.  It isn’t until I tell them that accident reports are not admissible in court and cannot be used against them, that they begin to calm down.  Florida Statute 316.066 clearly states that “no such report or statement shall be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal.”/p>

So without an accident report, without a police officer testifying against them, and only another individual who may or may not have actually seen what happened and have the ability to relay the story 4-6 months later with enough detail to overcome a “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard; it should be very clear why careless driving tickets are among the most often dismissed tickets in our office and should always be fought./p>

If you have a careless driving ticket (or any other type of traffic matter) and would like a free consultation, please send me an email at [email protected] or call my office at 866-374-8355./p>

police officer about to hand someone a traffic ticket

When most people get a uniform traffic citation, one of the first things they do is flip it over and look at the back.

Why?

Because the back is where the officer usually writes down how much the traffic ticket is going to cost. I understand why this would be an area of interest.

Sometimes, the officer will give a booklet in addition to the ticket, that explains in more detail how much the ticket is.

However, this is not the place you should be focusing your attention.

Why not?

Because as a traffic attorney for over 17 years, I firmly believe that it is in almost everyone’s best interest to fight the ticket and NOT pay it. Paying a ticket will almost always result in points on your license.

In case you don’t know, points will cause your insurance to skyrocket. You can read about how points on your license affect your insurance, but take my word for it, they do and you want to avoid points at all cost.

So what part should you look at? Well, that depends. It depends on what you want to do with the ticket. I recommend fighting most tickets. You can either fight it with a traffic attorney, or you can choose to fight it yourself. Either way, you will need to know exactly what type of ticket you received.

Don’t assume because you were speeding and got pulled over that you got a speeding ticket. I was talking to a client the other day who told me that he thought he got a speeding ticket, but the officer gave him a ticket for failure to obey a traffic control device (which is a fancy way of saying he ignored a sign on the side of the road that gave the speed limit).

He was confused because he said the officer told him if he went to court, the officer would amend the Florida Uniform Traffic Citation to a “real” speeding ticket and he didn’t understand what the officer meant.

This is a fairly common occurrence. The officer was trying to cut this person a break in the dollar amount of the ticket. I explained to him that there are Florida Statutes that the officer can cite when writing a Uniform Traffic Ticket for speeding, and the statute is actually what determines the charge, not the handwritten stuff in the middle of the ticket.

By choosing a statute that was for a vague type of violation, like failure to obey a traffic control device which carries with it a lower dollar amount than a ticket for speeding, the officer was attempting to save the client a few hundred dollars.

Sounds great, right? Not exactly, and this is why you need to focus on the front of the ticket and not the back.

The real concern when paying a ticket shouldn’t be the dollar amount of the ticket (although I understand that’s a concern), it should be what will happen after you pay the Florida Uniform Traffic Citation. In this case, if you pay the ticket for violation of a traffic control device, yes you will pay less money at the clerk’s office than you would have had to pay if the officer wrote an actual speeding ticket, but because this violation also carries points, you will pay hundreds more in increased insurance premiums for many years.

So it’s extremely important to look at the front of the Florida Uniform Traffic Citation and see what statute you were charged with and determine if it’s one that carries points. Most traffic attorneys have some form of protection against points appearing on your license if you hire them.

Our law firm has a very liberal money-back guarantee against points, so you should make sure you compare the guarantees before you make a decision, if you decide to hire a traffic attorney to handle your uniform traffic ticket.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’ve thoroughly weighed your options.

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simpson's character in a panic

So many of my clients come running in my office asking if I can help them with a traffic ticket that’s due at the last minute (Yes, I can by the way), that I often overlook the fact that there are plenty of people who want to do the right thing when they get a traffic ticket, but are unsure what the “right thing” is.

No problem. If you are one of those people who likes to be prepared and plan ahead so you can make the best decision and not have a decision made for you, then this blog post is for you.

One of the nice things (perhaps the only nice thing) about getting a traffic ticket, is that you do not have to make a quick decision on what you should do. In Florida, most counties give you at least 30 days to let the court know how you are going to proceed. This is plenty of time, even if you want to think about it for a while.

There’s no real benefit to rushing your decision. The clerk doesn’t give you a gold star for alerting them to what you plan to do within the first 5 days and she doesn’t punish you if you take your full allotment of time. So relax and move at your own pace.

The most important thing to remember, however, is you MUST DO SOMETHING. Again, I repeat, the single most important thing you can do when you get a traffic ticket is to take some kind of action within the time given. As I stated earlier, in most cases, you are given 30 days, which is more than enough time. Please don’t think the clerk will be sympathetic to any excuse should you miss the deadline. It’s just too much time for you to act like the time got away from you. (And you should know, missing the deadline will result in additional fines and in many cases, an automatic suspension of your driver’s license)

So, if you know that the most important thing to do is not miss the deadline, let’s talk about your options and what you should do with your 30 days.

You only have three options when you get a traffic ticket. It’s fairly simple. You can pay it (and get points), you can pay it and elect traffic school (in which case you’ll have to sit through the school and pay for the school), or you can fight it.

That’s it. You really don’t have any more options than those listed above. And, if you’ve seen my video posted below titled “Your three options when you get a traffic ticket, and why two of them stink,” it spells out clearly what I think your best option is.

However, please don’t take my word for it. This is your time to research all your options and decide which is best for you. That’s the beauty of the amount of time you have. It wasn’t like the officer who pulled you over told you to decide on the spot and you panicked and chose the wrong option.

I know I’ve been making light of your options, but to be fair, it is a little more complicated than I’m making it out to be. Before you can decide your best option, you must determine what type of ticket you have.

Is it a moving violation that is going to affect your insurance and your license? Or is it a minor violation that just carries with it a nominal fee and no increase in your insurance.

The truth is, deciding what to do after you get a traffic ticket is the easy part. It’s knowing the best course of action to take after you decide that can get complicated.

If it is a moving violation, and you decide to fight your ticket (good move, by the way), should you fight it alone or with an attorney? Do you know what’s involved with fighting a traffic ticket yourself? If you decide to hire an attorney, would you even know which questions to ask?

The answers to these questions and more can all be found in my blog. I’ve put together videos, eBooks, articles and just about anything you would need to help you decide what’s best for you. So sit back and enjoy the fact that you didn’t wait until the last minute.

If you feel like cheating and not consuming all the information available on my website, no worries, you can always call me at 866-374-8355. I’ve been helping people with their traffic-related problems since 1995, and I’d love to help you as well.

people on side of road after car accident

leaving the scene of an accidentIn my opinion, leaving the scene of an accident is one of those traffic criminal matters that should be broken down into two categories, infraction and criminal.  In my 17 years of defending all types of traffic related matters, I’ve rarely seen someone who was guilty of leaving the scene of an accident in the manner the law was intended.

Continue reading “Why Leaving The Scene of an Accident is Always a Bad Idea”
motorcycle in traffic

Sometimes on this blog, we offer tips on how to get out of a traffic ticket. We try and educate you, like when we did a post on how to read your traffic citation and get it dismissed.

Today, I’m going to shock many of you.

You know when you are sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, and you see someone in your rear view mirror (or maybe right next to you) in a motorcycle and it’s weaving in and out while you just sit there. You are probably either jealous, or are secretly wishing you could open your car door at the right moment (just kidding).

If you live in all but one state, you can be sure that if a police officer sees the same behavior, he will probably issue a traffic ticket. But if you live in California, would you believe it’s not illegal for a motorcycle to weave in and out of stop and go traffic (which they have plenty of)? Get this, California is the only state that has actually codified this behavior and called it legal, thus giving it a stamp of approval.

It’s called lane splitting (can you believe it has such a pleasant sounding name), and according to the California Highway Patrol “Lane splitting is permissible if done in a safe and prudent manner.” This obviously gives an officer great latitude in determining when to issue a citation, but apparently, you really have to be driving like a lunatic to get cited.

What’s perhaps even more interesting, is that one of the reasons cited by proponents of lane splitting is a study which showed that California has 30% fewer deaths than other states with similar numbers of motorcycle riders.

The thought is motorcycle deaths are lower as a result of allowing motorcycles to ride in the middle of a lane so they do not crash into the rear of a car. No conclusions were drawn by the legislatures from this study, but the statistic is interesting.

Apparently, this behavior is commonplace in other parts of the world where the traffic is dense and many people ride on motorcycles. But here in Florida, it’s pretty much a no-no.

Who knows if lane splitting will become legal everywhere as our roads get more and more crowded. If you live in Florida and get a traffic ticket for riding in between lanes, feel free to give me a call at 866-374-8355. For the past 17 years, my firm has helped hundreds of thousands of drivers (in both cars and motorcycles) fight their traffic ticket, and we’d love to help you as well.