Tampa police on Sunday arrested Lysa Clifton, a former lawyer for Clearwater parking lot shooter Michael Drejka, on a DUI charge. Clifton was part of a three-lawyer team representing Drejka until last month, when she withdrew from the case. She is also the subject of a Florida Bar investigation regarding her conduct with Drejka. [Courtesy of Tampa Police Department]
Tampa police arrested Lysa Clifton, 31, on Sunday at Bayshore Boulevard and Newport Avenue S, according to Hillsborough County Jail records.
The arrest is the latest in a short-lived wave of prominence for Clifton, who made headlines in August when she signed on to represent Drejka, then made them again when the Florida Bar opened an inquiry into how she came to represent him. Drejka's July 19 shooting of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton in a Clearwater convenience store parking lot reignited a national debate about self-defense.
About 9:45 p.m. Sunday, Clifton was driving south on Bayshore Boulevard at about 30 mph, according to police. Her car drifted out of the lane and hit a curb with its right front tire, then traveled across the road and hit another curb with its left front tire.
She appeared to be under the influence of alcohol but refused to provide a breath sample, an officer wrote. She was booked into the county jail about 11:15 p.m. and released the next morning after meeting $500 bail.
When asked about the arrest, Clifton said she wasn't drunk. She was eating at the wheel, she said, which caused her to hit the curb. She refused to participate in field sobriety tests, she said, because she was in a golf cart accident more than a decade ago. A brain injury left her lacking hand-eye coordination and balance, which she worried would make her perform poorly on the tests.
She refused to provide a breath sample because she said she doesn't trust the results.
"I do DUI cases," she said, "and I know that the Breathalyzers are inaccurate. That's why I decided not to blow."
She also questioned why her arrest is relevant because she withdrew from Drejka's case Oct. 18.
Clifton's involvement in the case started the day after Drejka's arrest. She told reporters she made a cold call visit to see him at the Pinellas County Jail. The two "carried on a conversation," she said, that ended with Drejka asking her to represent him. John Trevena and Bryant Camareno, both prominent Tampa Bay lawyers, joined her on the case.
The Florida Bar opened an investigation into her conduct a couple days later. The inquiry is examining whether Clifton sought out Drejka to represent him, an ethical no-no for lawyers known as solicitation.