© 2022 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Miami-Dade Commissioner Diaz Acquitted On DUI Charge In Keys

Nancy Klingener
Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose 'Pepe' Diaz speaks to the press at the Monroe County Courthouse after he was acquitted.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz was acquitted Wednesday in Key West of a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Diaz was arrested last September after Key WestpPolice officers clocked him going 74 mph on his motorcycle on a road with a 30 mph speed limit.

Officers pulled over Diaz and had him perform field sobriety exercises that were captured on body and dashboard cameras. Diaz refused a breathalyzer test.

The footage of those exercises was widely played on television, the Web and social media in South Florida. And they served as primary evidence during the two-day trial in Monroe County Court.

"I'm not proud of a lot of those moments," Diaz said after the verdict was announced in court. "But I've learned from them and I will deal with that throughout my career."

During closing arguments, Assistant Monroe State Attorney Nick Travato said the evidence from the police videos and the officers' testimony showed that Diaz was impaired.

"He made a litany of bad decisions on this evening," Travato said, "beginning with drinking and deciding to ride his motorcycle."

Diaz did not testify during the two-day trial. And his attorneys did not contest that he had drunk alcohol that day or that he was speeding when he was pulled over.

But they argued strenuously against the prosecution's interpretation of the field sobriety exercises and said Diaz was not impaired.

"LeBron James could not do these exercises today in the courtroom," defense attorney Christopher Lyons said. "It's a kangaroo court designed for failure to justify an arrest."

The Monroe County jury deliberated for about 20 minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty.

After the verdict, Diaz thanked his family, his legal team, his friends, constituents and God for seeing him through the process.

"Other people take pleas and I don't blame them for doing that," he said. "This is not easy. And it's a lot of stress on your family, your friends, constituents and everybody else. But I believed I was innocent."