DUI Sobriety Checkpoints in Tampa

At least once in every driver's lifetime, they will be come into contact with a DUI checkpoint. These checkpoints, placed at random points on main roads in Tampa, are usually conducted on holidays and nights of special occasion to screen drivers for drunk driving. Throughout the duration of just one of these checkpoints, many arrests are made for DUI based on results of field sobriety tests conducted to assess the degree of intoxication.

In recent history, the legality of these checkpoints has been a subject of controversy. The dispute centers on the claim that these checkpoints constitute illegal search and seizures, a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. In order to comply with the Constitution and still conduct these checkpoints, Florida law enforcement has implemented a "three minute rule." According to this "three minute rule," once a vehicle enters the designated checkpoint, it may not be detained for more than three minutes.

Information on DUI Checkpoints in Tampa

During a stop at a DUI checkpoint, the officer will likely approach the vehicle and begin speaking with the driver. He or she may ask questions concerning how much alcohol they have been drinking, where they are coming from and where they are driving to. This conversation is done as a diversion to the fact that the officer is actually observing the behavior of the driver to notice any signs of intoxication. Behavior traits the officer will be searching for include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and distracted or giddy behavior. The officer will also be observing the car for any sign or smell of alcohol. While the Fourth Amendment restricts the ability to search the car for alcohol containers, officers are able to use anything "in plain view" as evidence in a DUI trial.

The goal of the officer is ultimately to get the driver they suspect of intoxication to admit to it. However, regardless of whether the driver has been drinking or not, no one is required to admit to anything. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects Americans from being forced to self-incrimination. This means everyone, guilty and not-guilty, have the right to remain silent and not answer questions if they so wish. This applies to any requests by the officer to search the car. In fact, if asked, it is advised that drivers not grant permission to the officer to conduct a search as a precaution.

If the officer conducts a search against the wishes of the driver, he or she has violated that individual's constitutional right and any evidence gathered during that search will be deemed inadmissible in court. If the officer as reason to suspect that the individual is impaired by alcohol or drugs, they may ask the individual to step out of their vehicle and participate in any one of the possible tests used to determine intoxication. At this point, it is advised that drivers comply with the request of the officer. Refusal to participate in a breath, blood or field sobriety test can sometimes result in automatic suspension of the driver's license through the principle of implied consent to the charges made.

Tips During a DUI Checkpoint

If you see a DUI checkpoint, do not try to turn around or drive the other way in order to avoid it. Officers in police units are standing by for such behavior and will follow any drivers attempting to flee a DUI checkpoint. Instead, it is advised that you comply respectfully with the checkpoint as long as it is within your constitutional rights. This communicates to the officer that you are not afraid of them and breeds an air of accommodation rather than hostility. Additionally, it is advised that you avoid from drinking while intoxicated.

If you believe that your activities that day or evening will involve consuming alcohol, make plans ahead of time for designated drivers or alternative transportation. This is the best guarantee against a DUI arrest. If you have been drinking and come upon a sobriety checkpoint, it is still recommended that you comply with the proceedings because defense to charges is available; failure to comply can result in additional penalties.

If you were arrested for drinking under the influence of alcohol or drugs during a sobriety checkpoint, please know that conviction is still not necessary. You can hire a DUI attorney in Tampa to examine the circumstances of the checkpoint, the evidence gathered and the charges made in order to defend you against possible conviction. A reduced sentence and even dismissal is a very real possibility if you are equipped with the right legal representation. The best way to increase your chances for a positive outcome is to act quickly. So call Thomas & Paulk, P.A. today and learn more about how we can help you!

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