Four Things That You Need to Know About DUI Checkpoints
From a young age, we have been taught that getting behind the wheel of an automobile while drunk is bad, illegal and dangerous. And though most can agree with that proposition, it is not illegal to drive after having a drink or two, so long as you are not legally drunk or operating your vehicle in a dangerous manner. A common way that police in Florida catch drunk drivers is the DUI checkpoint. The experienced Florida criminal law attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A. have compiled a short list of things that you need to keep in mind when you approach a DUI checkpoint, whether you have been drinking or not.
- Observe how police are stopping vehicles.
Though there is only one concept behind a DUI checkpoint, the methodology behind the operation can differ between police departments, geographical areas or individual officers. The Supreme Court has said that there are particular ways that the police can set up a DUI checkpoint and still be constitutional. The most common type of DUI checkpoint method requires all cars to stop, generally for only a few fleeting moments. The second common method that law enforcement will employ for checkpoints involve police stopping a certain amount of cars after so many cars have passed. Using this method, not every vehicle is checked; the ones that are stopped are not chosen randomly, but rather by a predetermined method.
As you approach a DUI checkpoint, keep your eyes open and take a mental note on how the police are choosing to select the vehicles that they stop to check. In some cases, the arbitrary nature of the selection process may assist our Florida DUI attorneys in your defense.
- Hand over your license and documentation but do not make statements that could incriminate you.
There are plenty of videos all around the Internet showing drivers refusing to show their identification and proof of insurance to the officer at a DUI checkpoint. This is not advisable. Not only is a police officer entitled to ask you for your necessary documentation at a DUI checkpoint, you may make a very simple experience much more complicated and unpleasant.
Though, you should not make (nor are you required to make) any statements that could incriminate you. The simple fact that you are stopped in a DUI checkpoint does not require you to answer questions that an officer asks.
- Glance at your clock when you enter the checkpoint.
As a matter of police policy, Florida law enforcement officers limit stops to three minutes. The clock begins when a driver stops in line and is waiting for the checkpoint. If the DUI checkpoint operation is holding drivers up in traffic for more than three minutes, the law enforcement officers are required to immediately suspend their diversion operations and may resume once the traffic and corresponding wait subsides.
- If you are arrested, submit to a blood alcohol test at the station.
When and if an officer asks that you submit to a chemical test to establish blood alcohol level, it is generally in your best interest to refuse to take a Breathalyzer at the scene of the checkpoint. You can also refuse to perform field sobriety tests if you wish. If you decline these tests, you will likely be arrested and taken to the police station for a blood test.
At this point, you should not refuse to give your blood. In Florida (as well as many other states), if a driver refuses to submit to a blood test at a police station to determine blood alcohol levels, the penalties may be greater than those for the underlying DUI itself, such as the loss of your license.
No matter the circumstance of your stop or arrest, if you have been charged with a DUI or any other crime related to drinking and driving, the attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan, P.A. are here to help you. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys want to hear your side of the story and will fight for you. Contact our office today for a free consultation.