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 about how much alcohol they have been drinking, where they are coming from, and where they are doing. This conversation is a way for the officer to observe the behavior of the driver to notice signs of intoxication. Behavior traits the officer will search for include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and distracted or giddy behavior. The officer will also observe the car for sign or smell of alcohol. While the Fourth Amendment restricts the ability to search the car for alcohol, officers are able to use anything "in plain view" as evidence in a DUI trial.

The goal of the officer is to get a driver to admit to intoxication. 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-incriminate. 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.

Operation 3D in Hillsborough County

There is a public awareness plan called Operation 3D, which was designed to help the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office so it could better deal with drunk driving. Operation 3D encourages the voluntary compliance of the state’s existing traffic laws. Under Operation 3D, news releases will be disseminated, and public service announcements and materials are being developed, all of which serve to enhance local law enforcement’s efforts. As a part of Operation 3D, on Friday, July 3, 2015, the Sheriff’s Office had a “heightened patrol” in District II – Eastern Hillsborough County, and on Saturday, July 4, 2015, there was a saturation patrol in Western Hillsborough County.

DUI Checkpoints vs. Saturation Patrols

What’s the difference between a checkpoint and a saturation patrol? During a DUI checkpoint, law enforcement officers evaluate drivers for signs of impairment due to alcohol or drugs. With DUI checkpoints, the officers stop vehicles in a specific sequence, such as every other vehicle or every other fourth or fifth vehicle and so on. Usually, the frequency of which vehicles are stopped depends on the available manpower to staff a checkpoint. On the other hand, saturation patrols refer to increased law enforcement effort, which targets a specific area to identify and arrest impaired drivers. For example, each July and December, law enforcement across the nation step up their DUI enforcement efforts since DUI arrests and accidents occur more frequently in the summer and around the holidays.

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 driving while intoxicated.

If you believe your activities 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.

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DUI Defense in Florida

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

  • If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.

  • A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.

  • Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.

  • Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.

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