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Sometimes, the process is the punishment

We are frequently told that we should let the justice system work, and since we each are entitled to due process, things will work out for the best. What about times when the process itself IS the punishment?

A woman in Lakeland, Florida was recently arrested for driving under the influence. The thing is, she was riding a horse. What will happen to her over the next few months is the process that we are told to allow to take its course:

Her drivers license will be immediately suspended upon her arrest, and the police will physically confiscate her license. She will be allowed to drive for 10 days, using her DUI citation as a license. After that, she will have to get a lawyer to appeal the suspension. This will mean that, since she cannot drive to work, she will either have to get a ride to work, or will lose her job.
Her auto insurance will immediately be canceled.
Since she no longer has car insurance, her tags will be cancelled.
She will have to bond out. This will mean paying a bondsman $500 or more for a bail bond.
30 days after her arrest, she will be arraigned, and will likely plead not guilty.
60 days after her arrest, her lawyer will receive all of the information on her charges: police reports, witness statements, etc.) from the state of Florida.  The case is reset for a hearing to take place in another 30-60 days.
Day 90-120, calendar call is when you let the judge know how the case will resolve.  It may be set for trial, a pretrial motion to suppress or motion in limine, or for a plea agreement.
Day 120-180, Preparing for a trial and/or motion hearings takes substantially more time for the lawyer to prepare.  A motion to suppress the stop, motion in limine or other motion will be held before the trial.  A DUI jury trial will be in front of 6 jurors and possibly 2 alternates.  A negotiated plea agreement (or if an agreement cannot be reached with the state) or a plea straight up to the judge will be held.

After all of this, the charges will likely be unsuccessful. You see, the state of Florida defines DUI as operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant. A vehicle is defined as a device that can be used or be drawn to transport persons (or property) on a highway. A horse is not a device. Here is what a Florida attorney has to say on the matter.

In this case, the woman has a lengthy criminal history. That, however does not mean that she is not entitled to justice. She will likely have to pay thousands in legal fees, which she likely cannot afford. She will have to pay a sizable bond amount. Months from her life will be lost.

All because she was arrested by police officers who were misapplying the law. Sometimes, the process IS the punishment.

One reply on “Sometimes, the process is the punishment”

When I first saw that story, I remember thinking, "how can that be illegal?" A horse isn't a vehicle, it's an intelligent animal.

There was a line going around (from a country song??) about your horse being the safest way to get to the bar because if you could get to the horse, it would remember how to get home even if you didn't. At least as smart as a cab driver.

I feel sorry for the woman. Like you say, it doesn't matter that she has a criminal history, it's just plain harassment.

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