Sobriety Checkpoints, Field Sobriety Tests and DUI Charges
Sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks involve law enforcement officials stopping every vehicle (or more typically, every nth vehicle) on a public roadway and investigating the possibility that the driver might be too impaired to drive. They are often set up late at night or in the very early morning hours and on weekends, at which time the proportion of impaired drivers tends to be the highest. Checkpoints are also often set near the exit points of public events, to prevent large numbers of drunk drivers from being released into traffic simultaneously from the event.
With a portable and quick alcohol breath test, the police can test all drivers (if the law permits), and process the cars one by one as in a conveyor belt. When there is no quick test, a more complicated routine is necessary. Upon suspicion, the stopped driver is required to exit the vehicle and take a roadside sobriety test that requires the demonstration of both mental and balance skills. If the officer determines that the test has not been passed, the driver is then required to take an alcohol breath test (referred to as a Breathalyzer test in the United States).
Sobriety checkpoints regularly catch much more than just drunk drivers. The identity checks will catch individuals wanted by the police, and DUI often occurs together with other crimes, such as vehicle inspection and registration violations, vehicle tax avoidance or driving without a license.
According to recent studies, most drivers arrested for DUI have almost no alcohol in their systems at all. Increasing state legislation has made it virtually impossible to have a drink with friends and drive home without fear of being arrested, of being labeled as a criminal.
All DUI arrests begin with a suspicion, a reason to pull you over. Whether that is because you have a turn signal bulb that is not functioning or because you were weaving while driving, it all stars with a cause. Not giving the officer a cause to pull you over is the best protection. Common causes of initial stops include:
- Inoperable vehicle lights (headlights, taillights, turn signals, etc)
- Obscured or unreadable license plate or tag
- Suspicious behavior (weaving or swerving, etc)
- Reckless driving (failure to stop at stop signs, etc)
What do you do if you are pulled over for DUI?
What can you expect to take place? Will you go directly to jail? The outcome of the event will be determined by your actions, as well as the determination of the officer to investigate your driving. Regardless of the reason for the initial stop, whether it was a blown taillight or a malfunctioning turn signal, you now see the blue lights in the rear view mirror.
Pull over as soon as it is safe. Always pull off on the right side of the road and turn your dome light on. Place your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight. Officers rightly fear for their safety when approaching an unknown situation; give them no cause for further anxiety or alarm. In addition, have your license and registration in a safe place, but do not reach for them until the officer asks for them.
Greet the officer calmly and courteously, never be belligerent or indignant. This is an immediate tip that you may be intoxicated. Remain calm and be pleasant if possible. However, if the officer asks if you have been drinking, do not admit to having a single drink. This gives the officer sufficient cause to administer a DUI test, or even arrest you. The best recourse is simply to ask if the officer would like to see your license and registration.
If the officer asks you to step out of the car, comply, but do not perform any field sobriety tests. These tests are designed to make you fail. In addition, you are not required to perform any roadside testing, whatsoever. By refusing the tests, but remaining calm and courteous, you force the officer to make his arrest decision based on your driving and your demeanor, rather than on the faulty results of inaccurate testing. In addition, the results of these tests can be used against you in court; by avoiding the tests, you reduce the case against you.
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
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.