Key Takeaways from a Pitkin County Jail Incident

By Jonathan Blecher on October 7, 2020

A recent order from a local Colorado judge requires those who are arrested for DUI in Aspen and Pitkin County to remain in jail until their court hearing. Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely supported her decision with Colorado’s DUI statutes, which require anyone who was arrested for DUI to be brought before a county judge. The county judge will set bond and possibly monitored abstinence, and address community safety. Fernandez-Ely further expressed concern for DUI arrestees getting released from jail — with their car keys — while still intoxicated, in addition to agreeing to bond conditions while they are impaired.

The effect of Fernandez-Ely’s order was overcrowding problems at the Pitkin County Jail one weekend, where three men had to sleep on the floor in a small holding cell for 24 hours while a young woman spent two nights alone in a second holding cell — all during a pandemic. Despite criticism, the judge’s order accurately reflected Colorado’s 2018 DUI laws, which require DUI arrestees to be held in custody until they’re sober and can attend the bond hearing before a county court judge.

Pre-Trial DUI Proceedings in Florida vs. Colorado

Prior to the passing of Colorado’s applicable DUI law in 2018, first-time DUI suspects would be sent to jail, booked, issued a summons and released into the arresting officer’s custody before getting released to a sober person or taken home. The situation at Pitkin County Jail, however, was unique because Monday was Francis Xavier Cabrini Day and thus forced all four arrestees to be held in jail until Tuesday. After getting several complaints, Ninth Judicial District Attorney Jeff Cheney agreed to $1,000
personal recognizance bonds and three of the four arrestees were released by Sunday.

In Florida, the DUI statute requires that an arrestee be held for a minimum of eight hours before getting released on bond. Unlike Colorado, Florida does not require DUI arrestees to appear before a judge prior to their release but rather post a bond and be cut loose after 8 hours instead. Practically speaking, arrestees stay in jail for quite a bit longer than 8 hours even after posting bond due to large jail populations and prisoner movement logistics. For instance, Miami-Dade is 158x the size of Aspen, so law enforcement officials can get away with holding people in jail until they see a judge.

Under Florida Statutes Section 316.193 (9), a person who is arrested for DUI may not be released from custody until:

  • They are no longer under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance set forth in s. 877.111, or any substance controlled under chapter 893 and affected to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired
  • Their blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level is less than 0.05
  • 8 hours have elapsed from the time the person was arrested

Were You Arrested for DUI in Miami?

As you can see from the Pitkin County Jail example, the amount of time you spend in jail after a DUI arrest depends on where you live in addition to factors such as:

In Colorado, you may stay in jail for days and even weeks depending on how backlogged the county court is. In Florida, however, you may get released after approximately 8 hours depending on the circumstances. My goal is to help minimize the amount of time you spend in jail, as any minute spent behind bars is a minute too long. As such, you can count on Jonathan Blecher, P.A. to defend your DUI charges from the very beginning, including negotiating to get you out of jail as soon as possible!

Contact a Miami DUI defense attorney online or by calling 305-321-3237.

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