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.
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!
Information on DUI Checkpoints in Tampa
During a DUI checkpoint, the officer will approach the vehicle to speak with the driver.
They may ask questions about how much alcohol the driver has consumed, where the driver is coming from, and where the driver is heading. This conversation will allow the officer to assess the sobriety of the driver superficially. Behavior traits the officer will search for include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and distracted behavior. The officer will also observe the car for signs or smells of alcohol.
The officer’s goal is to get a driver to admit to intoxication; however, regardless of whether the driver has been drinking, they are protected by the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment protects citizens from being forced to self-incriminate. This means everyone, guilty and not-guilty, has the right to remain silent. The Fourth Amendment applies to any requests by the officer to search the car. A person has the right to refuse an unwarranted search of their property. However, keep in mind that they officer can use anything visible as evidence against the driver.
If the officer searches against the consent of the driver with probable cause or reasonable suspicion, they have violated that individual's constitutional right and any evidence gathered during that search will be deemed inadmissible in court. If the officer has 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 identify intoxication. At this point, it is advised that drivers comply with the request of the officer.
DUI Checkpoints vs. Saturation Patrols
During a DUI checkpoint, law enforcement officers evaluate drivers for signs of impairment. With DUI checkpoints, the officers stop vehicles in a specific sequence. Usually, the frequency of which vehicles are stopped depends on the ability of the department to staff a checkpoint. Saturation patrols refer to increased law enforcement efforts in a specific area. While these are not concentrated checkpoints, saturation patrols can last for weeks and involve an increased amount of patrolling in a specific area. Saturation patrols are common around the holidays. If you notice more people getting pulled over than usual, you might be in the middle of a saturation patrol.
No Refusal DUI Checkpoints in Tampa
No refusal checkpoints are a recent and aggressive form of checkpoint in the Tampa area. Authorities created this program because of concerns that drunk drivers were evading punishment by refusing breath tests when stopped for suspected drunk driving. At a no refusal DUI checkpoint, an on-site judge creates warrants on the spot for drivers who refuse a breath test. Opponents to this policy worry that no refusal checkpoints make judges appear as though they are not impartial to a driver’s case.
Tips for Going Through a DUI Checkpoint
If you see a DUI checkpoint, do not try to turn around or drive the other way to avoid it.
Officers in police units are standing by and will follow any drivers attempting to flee a DUI checkpoint. Instead, comply respectfully with the checkpoint. This communicates to the officer that you are not afraid of them, creating an atmosphere of respect.
If your evening involves enjoying alcohol, make plans to get home safely. 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—a refusal to take a test can make your penalties worse. After being accused of driving under the influence, hiring an experienced Tampa DUI attorney is the best way to fight for your rights.
If you have been arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, contact Thomas & Paulk immediately at (813) 321-7323. Our Tampa DUI defense lawyers are ready to use their experience to help you fight for reduced penalties, case dismissal, or acquittal.
Drunk driving cases may or many not require a formal trial. We discuss what most can expect in terms of the process and duration of their DUI case.
At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to have the experience to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.
The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.
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