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8 Things to Know if You are Stopped at a Florida DUI Checkpoint

January 14, 2013
By The Wiseman Law Firm

Police are not permitted to randomly stop and detain anyone on a street or who may be in a motor vehicle. Before doing so, the law enforcement officer must have a valid reason for the brief detention of anyone’s liberty.

DUI checkpoints, however, are an exception to some degree. These are roadblocks set up by police as a method of detecting intoxicated drivers. Even these intrusions on a person’s liberty, however, are subject to carefully delineated guidelines including advance public notice of the time and location of the checkpoint, clearly visible signs and lights at the checkpoint warning drivers of the checkpoint and having a pre-determined method of which cars to detain.

Most drivers, however, are not aware of the checkpoints when one suddenly appears one evening when returning home from a bar, residential or office party. Under these circumstances, it is helpful for the driver to know what to do if stopped at a Florida DUI checkpoint.

  1. Do not panic. If you have had one or two drinks over more than a one hour period or over two hours if a woman, it is unlikely you will exhibit signs of intoxication unless you are an inexperienced drinker. Signs an officer looks forare bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, fumbling for documents, slurred speech and an inability to answer simple questions.

  1. Consider turning around. Checkpoints must offer drivers a means to turn around. If you can feel the effects of the alcohol, it is likely you will not pass a breath test. Be aware that officers are looking for vehicles who are evading the checkpoint so obey all traffic laws and carefully maneuver your vehicle to turn around and drive to the nearest cafe and call a cab or for someone to pick you up. Police can only stop you if you violate a traffic law such as speeding,driving recklessly, or even having an equipment violation like a burned out taillight.

  1. Have all documents available and no alcohol containers visible. If you are in line, make sure your driver’s license, registration and insurance information is on the car seat. Be sure you recall where you have been and other details of your evening.

  1. Be polite and be sure your passengers are as well. Do not argue with the officer, make inappropriate remarks or be disrespectful.

  1. Do not agree to a search of your vehicle. Police have no right to search your vehicle unless you consent.

  1. Do not agree to any field sobriety tests. You have no obligation to perform any coordination tests such as walking a straight line, touching your finger to your nose or reciting the alphabet. You may politely refuse without giving a reason. This is not a refusal to take a breath test that can result in loss of your driving privileges for at least one year.

  1. Do not answer any questions. If the police ask you if you have been drinking, you do not have to respond. Consider doing this only if you feel your blood alcohol content (BAC) may be 0.08 or higher, which means you can feel the effects of the alcohol and have had more than one drink in the past hour.

  1. You do not have the right to speak to an attorney before taking a breathalyzer or blood test. An officer does not have to allow you to talk to an attorney if he or she asks you for a breath test and your insistence on doing so could be interpreted as a refusal and you will be arrested.

Being prepared, polite and not giving the officer any reason to believe you are under the influence will give you the best chance of proceeding through the checkpoint quickly and without incident.

If you are arrested at a Florida DUI checkpoint, there are many defenses available to you. Promptly contact The Wiseman Law Firm if you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI.

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