Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney Grant Schwarz Explains how checkpoints can stop your holiday fun in its tracks.
Concerts, festivals and holidays, especially holidays which involve a fair amount of drinking; like Thanksgiving and Christmas are among the most popular times the local police decide to set up DUI checkpoint stops throughout the South Florida Area. In my career I have handled dozens of cases involving DUI checkpoints. These arrests are very common in South Florida and it is important for you to know how to properly handle yourself if you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach counties.
For those who don’t know what a DUI checkpoint is; a DUI checkpoint is also sometimes referred to as a Sobriety Point. There are three distinct phases in the DUI Checkpoint. The first is the “Funnel”. The funnel is a term used to describe the way officer’s use using traffic cones and other traffic control devices to narrow lanes of traffic down to one lane. Once a vehicle enters the funnel, cars are counted by the police officers monitoring the checkpoint. There will be a pre-determined method set up in the Operation Plan to select which vehicles will be stopped and interviewed by police. Depending on the flow of traffic, officers will select every other car to interview the driver if traffic is slow, or at bigger intervals if traffic has backed up. Once a vehicle has been selected, the officer will speak with the driver and ask some basic questions about where they are coming from or going, also will ask if the driver has consumed any alcohol that evening.
This is when the officer will make a determination whether the driver is potentially impaired by alcohol. This is the precise time that you need to take control of the situation and handle yourself properly. You should never try to drive away when the officer is trying to speak with you. Driving away could result in additional charges like Resisting an Officer or Fleeing/Eluding. Understand that DUI Checkpoints are a perfectly legal way for police officers to stop your car as long as they have followed the proper procedures in setting the checkpoint up. Understand that there is very little you can do while on scene with police officers to prevent being arrested, so do not make matters worse by trying to run away.
“Even a fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut”. This is something that I tell all of my clients. Do not answer questions the officer has not asked you, and do not volunteer information that has not been requested. Do not open your mouth needlessly because everything you say is potentially being recorded and will absolutely be used against you in court. The less you say, the better. Be polite and speak with a normal even tone and do not argue with the officer. You will not be able to talk your way out of an arrest. Arguing with an officer will almost always result in additional charges, or at the very least being labeled as “Belligerent” in the arrest report. Judges, prosecutors and juries do not look kindly upon the Belligerent arrestee.
If you or someone you know has been caught up in a DUI Checkpoint over the holiday weekend, please call the DUI Defense Attorneys at Dell & Schaefer. Florida licensed attorneys are available 24 hours a day (Yes, even Thanksgiving or Black Friday) to answer questions regarding DUI or any other type of traffic, misdemeanor or felony charge. Call 1-800-403-3887 for a free case evaluation. Remember, even fish would not get caught if they kept their mouth shut.