The city of Tampa stands to pay a settlement of $65,000 to an eminent activist of Cuba-US relations, Albert A. Fox Jr., better known as Al Fox. At the heart of the suit is a questionable 2013 DUI charge which was later dropped. Fox, who was strip searched twice and held in custody for 12 hours, was charged with driving under the influence despite blowing a 0.00 breathalyzer reading. A urinalysis likewise found no alcohol in his system. The foundation of the charge was Fox's performance on his field sobriety tests, which he contends are inappropriate for drivers older than 65. Fox was 69 at the time of his arrest. Despite the clear lack of evidence against him and consequent dismissal of his charges, Fox is suing to clear his "mother and father's good name." He also means to draw attention to the alleged DUI quota system which he believes motivated his charge.
The night of his arrest, Fox was stopped by Sgt. Ray Fernandez for speeding along N Dale Mabry Highway, after playing poker at St. Petersburg Derby Lane. According to Fox's lawyer Joseph Lopez, he had a few sips of beer at Derby Lane but did not order or consume any other alcoholic beverages. Sgt. Fernandez is named in Fox's suit, although he has since been fired from his post in an unrelated incident. If the city settles with Fox for $65,000, this would only resolve the case in part as there would still be a live legal dispute with Fernandez. Lopez argues that the whole incident “should have never happened.” Fox firmly holds that his charge was a result of the city's DUI quota system. Although the city denies any liability in the case, officials have stated it would be less strenuous on the taxpayer dollar to settle the case for $65,000 than to go to trial and risk losing.
A relatively similar lawsuit was filed in Tennessee last year when a man cited the Tennessee Highway Patrol's DUI quota as the chief reason behind his tenuous DUI charge. In legal briefs, his attorney Frank Santore wrote, "Although not specifically contained in their policies and procedures...it [is] an unwritten rule among the rank and file of the troopers patrolling Tennessee highways that they are under pressure by their superiors to 'make the numbers look good.'” Santore argued that this “informal quota system” put pressure on officers to arrest his client without probable cause. A previous suit accusing THP of enforcing DUI quotas was dismissed before ever seeing its day in court.
It is as of yet unknown if the city of Tampa has settled with Fox in the DUI quota dispute. This is not Fox's first legal entanglement. In 2016, he faced $100,000 in civil penalties imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The federal agency accused Fox of arranging trips to Cuba without having obtained proper licenses. Fox's activism played a role in creating new and constructive Cuba-US relationships, such as the coral reef research partnership. His attorney asserted that Fox had done nothing wrong and was merely a victim of a “the Cold War against Cuba.”
Fox's allegations that law enforcement adheres to a DUI quota system is thought-provoking and could be a viable defense in certain future DUI cases. Above all, it is critical to remember that no DUI charge is hopeless. A skilled DUI attorney can always scrutinize your charges for procedural and evidentiary error. If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Fulton County, Georgia, do not hesitate to contact Fulton County DUI attorney Richard Lawson for a free consultation of your case.