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Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett | Legal Blog

Feb  16,  2016

Trusted Tampa Bay Attorneys Celebrate 45 Years of Success

Beginning in 1971, the prominent Tampa bay firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett P.A. began living their motto, “Fighting for the injured, defending the accused”. Attorneys at the firm agree that the personal relationships they build with clients and their reputation as leaders in the community is the driving force behind a client's motivation to trust the Carlson Meissner team

The firm’s long history of success is founded upon four key philosophies - based on the word CARE. The “C” is this acronym stands for community commitment. The next letter represents accessibility, a promise of a timely response to clients. “R” stands for responsible, reasonable and reliable service while the final letter, “E”, stands for extensive experience and the team approach. 

Since 1971, the firm has grown to five locations across the Tampa Bay area to better meet the community’s needs. Locations include Tampa, Clearwater, Spring Hill, Bradenton, and New Port Richey. A team of 16 highly skilled attorneys comprises the Carlson Meissner legal team, giving clients access to more than a century of legal experience through the firm’s team approach. The attorneys have a proven record of success in several areas of practice, including:

The founders of the law offices of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. celebrate being named one of Florida’s Top Ranked Law Firms based on AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Lawyers Ratings, pursuant to the Wall Street Journal. Attorney Edward D. Carlson, co-founder of the firm, remarks, “ Our long-lasting success was not without hard work. Attorneys with our firm go the extra mile for the clients we serve and it is evident as each case unfolds.” The firm’s other co-founder, Paul A. Meissner, adds, “Our values have guided our practice and our skilled group of attorneys have allowed our firm to be unique in the creation of innovative legal strategies.” 


Posted in Announcements|Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|Community|News and Media|Workers Compensation|DUI|Family Law
Nov  09,  2015
By Jeff Patterson, WFLA-TV

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay area has recently seen a number of serious hit and run deaths. Two Illinois tourists were killed in Clearwater on October 18. Police have now arrested Charles Winzenread in connection with the crime.

Alexander Torres, 11, was killed in Tampa Saturday night in another hit and run crash. Authorities are offering a reward to find the driver involved in that crash.

A 33-year-old construction worker was seriously injured in another hit and run crash in Hillsborough County on Friday. Authorities have arrested Edwin Rodriguez in connection with the case.

Defense attorney Kevin Hayslett says many people leave the scene of an accident out of panic and a variety of other reasons. “People just get nervous and overwhelmed with anxiety and they panic, the car is stolen, they have a suspended license, they’re intoxicated, or think they are intoxicated, they’ve got drugs in the car,” said Hayslett.

Now because of changes in Florida’s hit and run laws, drivers who do leave the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury face up to 30 years in prison.

“You leave the scene and all of a sudden it goes from nothing, or maybe a traffic ticket to a first-degree felony with mandatory license suspension and mandatory state prison sentence,” said Hayslett. At one time, that wasn’t the case.

Drivers involved in deadly hit and runs could leave, go home and sleep off the effects of alcohol and face few consequences if they were caught. “It used to be that they were entitled to withholding of adjudication, which means no felony conviction and no incarceration,” said Hayslett.

The Florida legislature has moved recently to end that loophole. “They’ve now made it that leaving the scene of an accident involving death is a first-degree felony and your exposure, the amount of time you can face in prison is actually greater for leaving the scene of an accident involving death than it is currently for a DUI Manslaughter,” said Hayslett.

By Jeff Patterson, WFLA-TV

Tags: tampa car accident lawyers, hit and run accidents, clearwater accident attorneys, tampa criminal defense lawyers, carlson meissner, kevin hayslett
Posted in Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|Community|News and Media|DUI
Aug  28,  2015
Holidays and vacations are a peak time period for driving under the influence (DUI) arrests. While celebrating over summer vacation, it is crucial to recognize how to avoid a DUI, the penalties for drinking and driving, an appropriate or inappropriate DUI investigation by an officer, what to do if wrongly accused of drinking and driving, and how to deal with DUI charges. The Clearwater DUI attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. have more than 125 years of combined experience helping drivers recover from DUI penalties in the Tampa Bay Area and are available to assist drivers with any DUI penalty needs.

“We recognize that catching drivers under the influence keeps our communities safe,” J, Kevin Hayslett, Esq. of Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. said. “However, there is also a need for those arrested for DUI to stay protected from wrong accusations, and receive direction on how to prevent an unfortunate event from occurring in the future.”

According to state law, Florida prohibits drivers to operate any type of vehicle while impaired. The standard measurement of impairment across the United States is a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent or higher. If an officer believes this may be the case, he or she may perform a DUI investigation. Legally, a driver undergoing the investigation should understand how to react to the given tests and know what is expected of them, what they are required to participate in by law and what tasks they may want to refuse. Although officers are required to share all necessary information, it is better that the driver knows beforehand in order to avoid unnecessary accusations.

According to, under certain situations, those arrested in Florida for DUI can face serious penalties for a first-time DUI offense, including:

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • One-year license suspension
  • Nine months jail time
Multiple DUI offenses can elevate to a felony offense. DUI consequences are serious and can have wide-reaching ramifications, affecting many aspects of life, including:

  • Jobs
  • Trade licenses such as a plumbing or nursing license
  • College acceptance
  • Expulsion from educational programs or refusal of federal scholarships or loans

At Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A., our Clearwater DUI lawyers help get drivers back on track after a DUI arrest. Contact us today for a free consultation at (877) 728-9653.

Tags: kevin hayslett, carlson meissner, clearwater dui lawyers, multiple dui lawyer in tampa
Posted in Criminal Defense|News and Media|DUI
Aug  11,  2015

Although law enforcement spots fewer drugged drivers than drunk drivers, driving under the influence of any substance—illegal or prescribed—is equally as dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey found that over 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. In order to reduce the risk of drugged driving this year, a nationwide campaign is encouraging law enforcers to place drugged driving prevention efforts on par with those of drunk driving.

Leading Clearwater DUI attorney Kevin Hayslett of Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A., recognized as a “Top Rated DUI Attorney” by AVVO, expresses his concern for the amount of drug-related DUI charges he anticipates for Tampa Bay area drivers. “Laws are put in place to keep us out of harm,” Hayslett said. “Drivers need to be aware of the penalties they will face if they mistakenly drive while under the influence of any substance, including regular prescription medication.”

The White House has set a goal to reduce the rate of drugged driving by 10 percent in 2015. This includes working with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to highlight the epidemic and enforce strict drugged driving regulations. Main points of this strategy are to encourage states to adopt Per Se drug impairment laws, enhance drugged driving education among communities and professionals, increase training of law enforcement on identifying drugged drivers and to develop standard screening methods for drug-testing labs to use in detecting the presence of drugs.

Although the rate of fatal accidents caused by alcohol has always been higher than those caused by other drugs, commonly used illegal and prescription drugs still cause equal damage when ingested by the driver because they may impair the driver’s perception, judgment, motor skills and memory. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 9.9 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.

As part of the initiative to reduce drugged driving throughout the country, ONDCP will continue to conduct further research. Communities may also join the fight to reduce this threat of public safety by participating in the various coalitions and organizations put in place as resources to prevent drug-related tragedies in their area.

If you have been charged with DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact Tampa DUI attorney Kevin Hayslett for a free initial consultation at (877) 728-9653. Trust our DUI lawyers to protect your freedom and your future.

Tags: kevin hayslett, carlson meissner, tampa dui lawyer, cleawater dui lawyer, tampa dui attorneys
Posted in Criminal Defense|Community|DUI
May  13,  2015

Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett’s Kevin Hayslett says remaining silent at DUI checkpoints is a strategy that just might keep Florida drivers out of jail and preserve their driving privileges.

The Washington Post’s recent report of a Boca Raton attorney’s approach to helping drivers avoiding DUI arrests at checkpoints – by remaining silent and directing police to a plastic bag containing their driver’s license, automobile registration, proof of insurance and a “fair DUI flyer” – is generating buzz and controversy among DUI defense attorneys and the public at large.

According to the Washington Post’s February 10, 2015 article, the “fair DUI flyer” informs police to place any DUI ticket under the automobile’s windshield wiper and states that Florida drivers at DUI checkpoints are only required to show law enforcement officers the documents in the plastic bag, not to physically hand the information over to the officers.

Debates over the legality of this novel approach are rampant, with law enforcement officials pointing to the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, as authority for their right to conduct DUI checkpoints, according to the Washington Post.

Advocacy organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) believe that sobriety checkpoints are one of the most effective DUI enforcement tools, reducing fatalities by 20 percent. According to MADD, there were 40,677 DUI arrests in Florida in 2014 and 676 drunk driving fatalities.

High-profile Clearwater DUI defense attorney and "The Attorney to the Stars", Kevin Hayslett, of Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett, stated that, “The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida are severe and a DUI charge can have serious and wide-ranging consequences. While it is debatable how a court will ultimately rule on this clever strategy, if remaining silent can help drivers avoid taking a field sobriety test and Breathalyzer test it is a worthwhile approach to dealing with DUI checkpoints.”

Attorney Hayslett helps drivers charged with DUI evaluate their case and develop an effective defense strategy to preserve their rights, keep their record clean, and prevent them from losing their freedom and license to drive.

Tags: carlson meissner, kevin hayslett, dui lawyer clearwater, tampa dui attorney, tampa dui defense lawyer, how to avoid a dui, should i take the breathalyzer
Posted in Criminal Defense|Community|DUI
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