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How Do Cops Set Up A DUI Checkpoint?
One news reporter watched and reported that while "[S]tanding on Ulmerton Road, a deputy directs every third westbound car into the checkpoint. No exceptions.' If the third car is a patrol car, it gets diverted in,' Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Bordner said. 'If the third car is the sheriff, he gets diverted in.'" A deputy runs each driver's license through his in-car laptop computer, checking for such violations as an expired license or lack of car insurance. Meanwhile, another deputy asks the driver a few questions.' Where are you heading this morning?' 'Have you been drinking?' Frequently the deputies engage drivers in casual conversation and observe the driver's behavior, which helps determine if he or she may be under the influence. They also watch the driver's eyes. 'The eyes tell you a lot,' Ingoglia says.
If the deputy is satisfied the driver is not under the influence, he or she gets a friendly 'thank you' and a pamphlet explaining what the DUI operation is about. But if a driver's behavior is suspicious, the deputies ask him or her to take a field sobriety test (FST). The deputies ask anyone who performs poorly on the FST to take a breath test. Those who fail are arrested and held in a transport vehicle until taken to the Pinellas County Jail. On this night, more than 1,200 vehicles pass through the two checkpoints, with 353 diverted for assessment. (Less than one in three were diverted during the first checkpoint.) The average time non-impaired drivers spent with deputies was 1:33. That night a local news outlet reported the detail nets 17 arrests on 25 charges.
The Florida Highway Patrol has a manual for legal DUI checkpoints also known as Comprehensive Roadside Safety Checkpoints. There are strict requirements for checkpoints. The DUI cops must follow the rules. The rules are buried in the Procedure Manual that "provide[s] guidelines . . . as part of a continuing, systematic and assertive enforcement program to identify persons who are operating a motor vehicle with defective equipment, without a valid drivers license or permit [Driving While License Suspended or Revoked - DWLSR], without a proper vehicle registration, without proper insurance or [DUI] while under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
We have obtained a copy of the manual and you can download it here: Florida DUI Checkpoint Manual
Do I need an attorney? I really was drunk. Should I just plead guilty?