Florida DUI Defense Lawyers Whittel & Melton :: Ringing in 2012 Safely – DUI Checkpoints and Tips for the Holiday Season

December 25, 2011

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, it is important to be prepared to deal with the numerous DUI checkpoints that will be set up in an attempt to catch intoxicated motorists in Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol and Miami police are teaming up from now until Jan. 2 for what they call “Operation Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Officers will be staying out later and will have drug recognition experts patrolling the streets with them. Similar DUI checkpoints will be set up all over Florida to catch motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Throughout the state of Florida, New Year’s festivities will include fireworks, food and celebrations. Undoubtedly, alcohol will contribute to the parties and gatherings. Just remember that police from Tallahassee, Tampa, Orlando, Miami and everywhere in between will be out in full force looking to arrest drunk drivers.

New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous times to be operating a vehicle on Florida’s roadways. This is a time for celebrating, partying and drinking, and unfortunately too many people do not make prior arrangements and wind up getting in their vehicles after a long night of toasting the start of a new year. The bottom line is that on this night, there are far more drunken drivers on the roadways, which ultimately puts everyone at risk.

According to FHP, 32 people died on Florida’s roadways over the course of the 2010 New Year’s holiday, 12 of which were alcohol-related. Likewise, during the four-day Christmas holiday in 2010, 24 fatalities occurred in Florida. Of those deaths, eight were alcohol-related.

Due to road traffic spikes and increased holiday driving dangers, police ramp up their patrols to keep impaired drivers off of Florida’s roads. A similar ramped-up patrol conducted with FHP over the 2011 Thanksgiving holiday yielded 136 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A total of 26 people were killed in car crashes during this time period, according to FHP.

Police tend to increase their efforts during the holiday season to keep impaired drivers from operating on the roadways. Most of the time these efforts include DUI checkpoints, which screen drunk drivers systematically. The basic concept of a DUI checkpoint in Florida is legal, but they must be conducted properly so that a DUI arrest will be considered valid. The Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can review the events leading up to your arrest and help you determine if it was valid or not.

It is important to be aware that every county in the state of Florida has the authority to conduct a sobriety checkpoint at any given time. The county does not have to disclose the location of the checkpoint or its duration to the public. While many counties will contact local news stations to announce a DUI checkpoint, this is not always the case which means you could potentially run into a checkpoint without previous knowledge at any time.

With so many celebrations this holiday season – from office parties to bowl game get-togethers, the opportunity to consume alcohol seems endless. If you are going to be drinking, the following tips can ensure the safety of yourself and others any time of the year:

  1. Choose a Designated Driver. It is important to select someone that will stick to not drinking for the night and will make sure that any passengers wear their seat belts.
  2. Use Public Transit or Take a Cab. If you plan to party with a smaller group, consider taking a cab or using public transportation to get you around town. For larger groups, splitting the cost of a limo or party bus can be a great idea for getting to and from holiday merriments because they can carry large amounts of people and keep intoxicated individuals from getting behind the wheel. This way everyone can still have a good time at a reasonable price without stressing over who is going to stay sober and drive.
  3. Plan Ahead for Cabs if Hosting a Holiday Party. When your house is the setting for a holiday event, make sure to help guests get home safely by offering a cab ride should they need it. It is also a good idea to have non-alcoholic beverages for those opting out of drinking as well as food to help offset alcohol consumption.
  4. Avoid Driving Distractions. Even if you have only had one glass of beer or wine, alcohol in any quantity can impair your judgment and driving abilities. Try and limit your distractions like talking on your cell phone, texting or fiddling with the radio. These distractions take your eyes off the road and could lead to you getting pulled over by police.

While arguments can be raised over the fairness of DUI checkpoints in Florida, it is best to avoid a possible drunk driving arrest this holiday season. It is a good idea to have a plan set in place before you go out and drink on New Year’s Eve or attend a holiday function, but should you get pulled over, the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are readily available to assist you.

As soon as you are arrested for a DUI stemming from a sobriety checkpoint in Florida, you should contact a Florida DUI Defense Attorney. If you or someone you know is facing potential DUI charges, contact the Florida DUI Lawyers at the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC online or reach us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).

Have a safe and wonderful New Years!

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