Florida DUI Checkpoints and Your Rights
New Year’s Eve is here. Celebrating with your friends and family is a good thing. Drinking and driving is not. Many people on the road today do not understand their rights pertaining to DUI checkpoints. These rights become increasingly important if you’ve had a few drinks, and aren’t sure if it will register on a breathalyzer. To avoid incriminating yourself, listed below is some information you find useful about sobriety checkpoints before you find yourself being stopped at a temporary roadblock set up to catch drunk drivers.
DUI and sobriety checkpoints are temporary roadblocks erected by law enforcement to catch drunk drivers in the act. Officer at checkpoints may stop every vehicle driving past, or they may perform patterned or random checks.
The legality of checkpoints has been the point of some controversy. Many opponents argue that checkpoints constitute an illegitimate search and seizure, in violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution. This Amendment mandates that law enforcement must have probable cause to search an individual on their private property. The controversy became so great the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue, acknowledging that checkpoints did represent an infringement on citizens’ 4th Amendment rights against seizure, however this infringement was warranted as long as law enforcement can demonstrate evident effectiveness and minimal intrusion.
In Florida, law enforcement has established the “three minute rule” to meet the Supreme Court’s requirements. Any vehicle that enters the designated checkpoint area cannot be detained for more than three minutes, or else checkpoint officials must stop diverting all traffic into the checkpoint lanes, instead systematically selecting vehicles in traffic for search.
So what do you do when you come upon a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Sobriety checkpoint?
The first thing to do is show the officer your identification when asked. If they begin asking you questions, politely decline to answer as is your right. If you answer some questions, but not others, you will only raise suspicion and encourage the law enforcement officer to investigate or question you further. If the officer asks to search you car, respond by telling them that you do not consent to any searches. If you are ordered out of your car by the officer it is important that you lock the doors behind you.
In the event that the officer suspects you of drinking or being under the influence of alcohol, you will be asked to perform a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. You DO have the right to decline the test and request to speak with an attorney. This will probably result in your arrest, and the officer will put you in contact with an attorney. When you get to station, request again to speak with an attorney before submitting to any other tests or questions; the attorney you speak to will become a witness to your behavior, noting the clarity of your speech and instructing you on the legal issues involved in your current situation.
Your next move while at the station should be to submit to a BAC or Blood Alcohol Test. You are required by law to submit to a chemical test at the police station. If you refuse the test, your license could be revoked or suspended. It is usually better to submit to a test and then have the results suppressed than to refuse, as the penalty can be just as harsh as a DUI. Breathalyzer tests are more unreliable than blood tests, so if given the option, choose the breathalyzer. Knowing your rights is the most important thing you can do to protect your civil liberties during a DUI arrest.
West Palm Beach DUI/DWI Attorney
It is not illegal to drink and drive in Florida, so long as your blood alcohol content (BAC) is not over .08 or your normal faculties are not impaired. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we advise our clients to neither blow into a breathalyzer machine nor do a roadside test. Why give evidence to the state if you don’t have to?
If you have submitted to a breathalyzer test and failed, that is not the end of your case. The Intoxilzer 5,000 and Intoxilzer 8,000 breathalyzer machines used to measure BAC in Florida have significant problems. If you have an expert witness and an experienced attorney who can challenge the accuracy of the machine in court, the BAC evidence may be thrown out. DUI/DWI Lawyer Andrew Stine has obtained not-guilty verdicts due to machine failure for clients who have had blood alcohol levels of .229 and .227.
The most important thing in DUI/DWI cases is early intervention by your attorney. This preliminary involvement will help you avoid the consequences of a conviction, which are very serious in Florida. We will also represent you at your hearing before the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles in order to protect your right to drive.
In addition to DUI/DWI charges, we represent clients in DUI accident cases, including:
- Leaving the scene of accident with severe bodily injury
- DUI/DWI severe bodily injury
- DUI/DWI homicide
- DUI/DWI manslaughter
There are defenses in DUI accident cases, which an experienced and capable lawyer can use. Even if you made a statement to police during your arrest, our lawyers can usually get that evidence thrown out of court. Any statement you give officers cannot be used against you due to the Florida accident report privilege.
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.