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All Press Releases for January 03, 2014 »
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Sobriety checkpoints must follow plan to be legal

Being arrested on DUI charges affects the lives of those arrested and their families for years.
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    January 03, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Nobody can argue that drunk driving is dangerous and results in thousands of injuries and deaths in Florida each year. Not only that, but being arrested on DUI charges affects the lives of those arrested and their families for years. In 2011 alone, there were 43,784 DUI arrests in Florida, according to The Century Council. Many of these arrests would have originated from any number of sobriety checkpoints regularly conducted around the state.

Florida law allows between 15 and 20 DUI checkpoints per month, says the Governors Highway Safety Association. Law enforcement officials state that the purpose of sobriety checkpoints isn't to try to find people to arrest, but to prevent drunk driving by reminding people of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, and by giving potential drivers a warning that police will be on the lookout. While studies have shown that DUI checkpoints reduce the amount of drunk driving arrests and accidents, they must be performed with a strict set of rules in order to remain legal, says Channel 10 News.

Illegal DUI checkpoint resulted in charges dropped

Last December, police in Pasco County set up a sobriety checkpoint to prevent holiday drunk driving accidents. Their operational plan included pulling over every third car; however, squad car video suggested officers pulled over more than every third car, eliminating the lawful nature of the checkpoint. The state attorney's office didn't drop the arrests, but instead had officers sign affidavits stating the operational plan had been followed. As a result, one man had his DUI charges dropped, and others' convictions may also have been affected.

Checkpoint rules and reasons

According to MADD, checkpoints are meant to deter people from driving drunk, and when done correctly, police avoid racially or politically profiling drivers when they are pulled over according to a set sequence order. There are other specific rules pertaining to sobriety checkpoints:
- Checkpoints are publicized in advance, with signs posted to forewarn drivers.
- Police must have reason to suspect a driver is intoxicated before ordering a breath test.
- Officers are not permitted to deviate from the sequence and pull over cars based on race, a bumper sticker they don't like, or any other reason.

Typically, a driver pulled over at a checkpoint is released within the average amount of time of a stop light cycle. Studies have shown that properly conducted checkpoints are up to 24 percent effective in reducing accidents and deaths.

When to contact an attorney

When police arrest someone on suspicion of a DUI, certain rules must be followed. If you have been arrested, you have the right to have your side heard in court, especially if you believe your arrest was false or the procedure was faulty. Depending on the evidence shown, an experienced drunk driving defense attorney may be able to help get some penalties dropped or reduced.

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