Brooksville, Florida man, Timothy Carr, was issued a DUI for driving through a Brooksville Walmart on a motorized shopping cart earlier this month. It is reported that Mr. Carr was quite intoxicated while cruising through the store drinking alcohol that he had plucked from the shelf while inside and also knocked several additional items from their shelves. When confronted by police, Mr. Carr told them that he had no money to pay for any of the items he was drinking and carrying in his cart. Police learned during questioning of Mr. Carr that he is homeless and has two prior arrests or convictions (the report was unclear) for theft. Based on police observations and their impression of his criminal history they have recommended that he be formally charged with disorderly intoxication, DUI and felony theft.
Unlike some other states, a person can receive a DUI in Florida so long as they are driving or in actual physical control of a "vehicle" as defined in Florida Statute 316.003(75). The motorized shopping cart driven by Mr. Carr fits the definition of vehicle as it is a "device in or upon by which a person or property may be transported or drawn upon a highway, except for devices travelling on stationary rails or tracks." In other words, because a motorized shopping cart could be driven on a highway, Mr. Carr could be charged with a DUI. Of course conviction could be another story as field sobriety tests would likely need to be conducted and show impairment along with a chemical test or refusal of that test. If no other signs of impairment are present, a Tampa DUI lawyer could argue that Mr. Carr is simply not of sound mind or suffers from collateral medical issues, thereby preventing a shopping experience without incident. Would it work? Who knows. Tampa DUI charges, like other charges, are fact driven and unique. The short answer... It depends.
As for the disorderly intoxication charge under Florida Statue 856.011, the state must prove that 1) Mr. Carr was intoxicated and 2) he endangered the safety of others or property or they can show that he was drinking and caused a public disturbance. Back to the DUI charge, a Tampa DUI attorney should at the least review this case to see whether the State can prove intoxication. If they can't, out goes the disorderly intoxication charge. Second, it doesn't seem anyone was harmed. What about property? If no property was damaged that can help a defense effort. Ultimately, if the State can show that Mr. Carr was intoxicated, they will no doubt be able to get testimony from a Walmart employee or bystanders that Mr. Carr was causing a disturbance. If the State can prove intoxication, Mr. Carr's ship may be sunk on the disorderly intoxication charge.
As for the theft, this Tampa criminal attorney is of the opinion that the State will charge simple petit theft under 812.014 as opposed to retail theft as it is easier to prove. If Mr. Carr has two prior petit thefts, the State Attorney's Office could charge him with a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in the Florida Department of Corrections and a $5,000 fine in addition to any applicable restitution. In this particular case the theft would be based on the alcohol he had consumed as opposed to the items in the cart as he had not concealed them or left the store.
Not all criminal charges are as clear-cut as the media presents them. Every case is unique and driven by its own facts. If you've been charged with a criminal offense in the Tampa Bay area, contact a Tampa criminal attorney at The Mayberry Law Firm today. We're available for a free consultation at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.