Driving home after drinking at a party or nightclub can be treacherous and not advised. If you knew you had too much to drink, you may have been conscious of the speed limit and were taking extra care to drive carefully and within your lane, but a DUI checkpoint up ahead was looming and your chances of convincing the police there that you were sober will be an uphill battle.
DUI checkpoints are not legal in every state, but they are valid in Florida even though you are essentially being stopped and questioned without any legal justification. Since 1990, when the US Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints were legal, most states that use the practice must adhere to specifically defined restrictions on how the DUI checkpoints are conducted and established.
Guidelines For Checkpoints
- Stops must be of every vehicle or by a predetermined formula–every fourth car, for example;
- Location of the checkpoint must be based on drunk driving data and selected by policy makers;
- The length of the stop must be based on a minimum of intrusiveness and effectiveness;
- There must be advance publication of the time and place of the checkpoint;
- There must be clearly visible signs and lights advising drivers of the checkpoint; and
- Any arrest must be constitutional.
What to Do
- Do not agree to a search of your vehicle. You have no legal obligation to allow a search unless you agree to it.
- Refuse to take any field sobriety tests (FST). These are coordination tests that see if you can walk a straight line or touch your nose while standing on one foot with your eyes closed, among others. There is no penalty for refusing.
- Refuse to take a portable breath test. You have no legal obligation to blow into one.
- If you are asked to take a blood alcohol or breath test at the police station or mobile lab, your refusal can result in loss of your driver’s license, you will probably be arrested, and if you have refused before note that by refusing again, you may be charged with a crime.
You do have a right to speak to an attorney if you have been detained but not to consult whether to take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test. If you ask to speak to an attorney before taking a breath test, the officer may or may not agree and does not have to comply with your request. Your request could be construed as a refusal as well.
There are numerous defenses to a DUI case. If your arrest was at a checkpoint, a DUI lawyer, such as one from The Wiseman Law Firm, will undertake all action necessary to ensure the checkpoint was established according to law and that adequate notice was given before and during the checkpoint. He or she will also determine if it complied with all other carefully delineated legal guidelines.
Other defenses may include suppression of the breath test or blood test result. Beware DUIs are very complex so ensure you hire a skilled and knowledgeable DUI criminal defense lawyer. Also, be aware that you also only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to challenge any license suspension so time is of the essence.
Trust your defense to the legal professionals at The Wiseman Law Firm. Call today for a free consultation.