police officer pulling over suspected drunk driver at nightWhether you encounter a random DUI checkpoint on your way home from a restaurant or you are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you have rights and the police have responsibilities during the interaction. Knowing what those rights and responsibilities are could help you avoid making a bad situation worse.

As Florida DUI defense lawyers, we advise everyone to follow directions and be cooperative but also to recognize when law enforcement has gone too far and may be violating your rights. If you are actually charged, your first call should be to a DUI defense attorney to avoid the worst possible outcome.

Your Rights During a DUI Stop

Your rights during a DUI stop are based on the same Constitutional rights you have during any interaction with law enforcement. Those include:

  • Right to remain silent. You have the right to remain silent and not answer questions about your activities, alcohol consumption, or any other matters. You can provide your identification and vehicle documents, but you are not obligated to provide self-incriminating information.
  • Right to refuse field sobriety tests. You have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. These tests are voluntary and designed to gather evidence of impairment.
  • Right to implied consent notice. If you are arrested for DUI, you have the right to be informed of Florida's implied consent law, which states that you must consent to a blood or breath test if lawfully arrested for DUI. Refusing to take a blood or breath test will result in legal penalties regardless of whether you are convicted of drunk driving or not. We advise our clients to consent to the breathalyzer or blood test.
  • Right to request an attorney. If you are arrested, you have the right to request an attorney. This is a crucial step to protect your legal interests during questioning and any subsequent legal proceedings.

What's the Deal With DUI Checkpoints?

DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, are a tool used by law enforcement agencies to identify and deter impaired drivers. They are an exception to the unreasonable search and seizure protection offered by the Constitution. However, Florida police must follow certain procedures, including the following:

  • They must be brief. In Florida, an officer cannot detain you at a DUI checkpoint for longer than three minutes.
  • The selection of vehicles to be pulled over must be randomized to ensure fairness and objectivity.
  • The date and location of scheduled DUI checkpoints must be made available to the public to give individuals the opportunity to avoid unnecessary delays.

If you believe that your rights were violated during your arrest at a DUI checkpoint, call a lawyer as soon as possible.

What You Should Do at a Florida DUI Traffic Stop

Being on the lookout for violations of your rights during a traffic stop could cause more problems than it solves. We advise all drivers to do the following during a routine stop:

  • Provide documents. Upon request, you are responsible for providing your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance to the law enforcement officer.
  • Cooperate with law enforcement. Remain respectful and cooperative with the officer's instructions and requests. Avoid confrontational behavior, as it can escalate the situation.
  • Comply with implied consent law. If arrested for DUI, you are responsible for complying with Florida's implied consent law by submitting to a blood or breath test to determine your BAC. Refusal can lead to administrative penalties.
  • Adhere to traffic safety laws. While pulled over, you must adhere to traffic safety laws, such as using your vehicle's hazard lights if necessary, to ensure the safety of both yourself and the law enforcement officer.
  • Do not engage in voluntary incrimination. While you may provide identification and basic information, avoid volunteering self-incriminating details or admitting guilt, as this information can be used against you in legal proceedings.
  • Remain calm. Stay calm and composed during the interaction. Panicking or exhibiting nervous behavior can potentially be misconstrued as signs of impairment.

If your rights were violated during a traffic stop, a skilled defense lawyer can deal with it later if you are arrested. Do not make your situation worse by accusing law enforcement of breaking the law on the spot.