A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge carries heavy penalties including but not limited to: jail time, heavy fines, loss of your driver’s license, and even the possibility of losing your job. We fight for our clients to make sure these charges don’t take away their freedom, but it’s understandable why police officers often patrol for dangerous drivers, especially during popular drinking holidays.
So, what should you do if you come across a DUI checkpoint?
Just because you’re coming up on a DUI checkpoint does not mean you’re in trouble. Officers are just checking to make sure everyone is staying safe on the roads and not putting lives at risk. You risk incriminating yourself if you become agitated or give the impression you are driving under the influence.
All DUI checkpoints in Florida must provide some advance warning you are approaching a checkpoint and a way to drive without proceeding through the checkpoint like an intersection one can turn down or an alternate roadway. If you do not wish to be stopped, look for these alternatives immediately upon noticing the checkpoint warning signs. If you go through the checkpoint, treat officers with respect when you get there. Officers are more likely to let you pass without much effort if you respect their job and the role they are playing in public safety. Stay calm, speak clearly, and provide the items like your driver’s license, insurance and registration without fumbling. You should always keep these together, handy to provide to any officer.
Never admit to being under the influence
We advise all clients to avoid driving under the influence, but we also understand people make mistakes. Those mistakes don’t have to take away your freedom. When an officer asks you questions about drinking, you should never incriminate yourself and admit to wrongdoing. Instead, you can either refuse to answer by telling them you wish to remain silent or that you have always been advised not to speak with them without a lawyer present, or tell the officer you have not been drinking, if true, and ask to proceed on to your destination.
Your defense starts the moment you interact with the police, so we advise you to choose your words carefully whenever you speak to officers. Remember, the officers will note every statement by you which indicates you have committed a crime.
Don’t take a field sobriety test
Field sobriety tests are intended to see if you can coherently carry out a specific set of tasks. It’s a common misconception that you’re required to take a field sobriety test. Refusal to participate can be used in court against you; the State will argue you refused because you would perform poorly. There are many other reasons you should refuse to participate – age, injury, etc. The officers generally ask if there is any medical condition that would “prevent” you from participating. That is a trick question. There may be many medical and other reasons (fatigue, anxiety) that might not prevent you from performing but which would inhibit you from performing well. If you have an injury or other situation that might influence how you perform on the test, you should inform the officer you would not be performing well because of those things and politely decline.
Get off the road
Your best avenue to avoid getting caught under the influence at a DUI checkpoint is to never get behind the wheel in the first place. If you do find yourself driving and realize you had a bit too much to drink, you should immediately get off the road. This could mean safely pulling over until you are able to drive, calling friends to come to drive you home, or parking and taking rideshare like Uber or Lyft home. You would think simply pulling over would safeguard you, but it doesn’t. Many clients are arrested while ‘sleeping it off’ in a parking lot. So to avoid this, and I know it sounds silly, but you MUST get out of the vehicle or hide the keys nearby, not on you and not in the car.
We care deeply about all our clients, so we don’t want to see anyone’s lives put at risk. Driving under the influence puts you and everyone else around you at risk. Do not drive under the influence and if you do happen to get behind the wheel before you’re ready, get off the road immediately.
If you get caught at a DUI checkpoint, you’re going to need a lawyer. Malcolm Anthony, P.A. should be your first call when you need help protecting your freedom and preserving your future. Contact our offices today to start your case.