Do you have your Fourth of July plans figured out yet?
Most of our Independence Day celebrations will look like this: we head out to a local park or beach for a nice barbeque and catch some exciting fireworks with family and friends. We’ll probably eat hamburgers, watermelon, and maybe some ice cream, and possibly kick back with a beer as we enjoy the day.
But if you head out on the road after drinking – even if it is only a beer or two – you’ll be taking a big risk. Not only is the Fourth of July one of the most dangerous holidays for drivers, police are likely to be out in force.
DUI Deaths on Holiday Weekends
DUIs are not exclusive to Fourth of July: the weekends and nights around Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are also notorious for having a lot of drunk drivers on the road. The Fourth of July, however, continues to top the list as the most dangerous day to drive.
The Fourth of July weekend accounts for 40% of all traffic-related deaths during the year. That’s right. Almost half of all traffic-related deaths for the entire year happen around the Fourth of July. And most of these deaths involve drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Naturally, police officers want to prevent as many of these deaths as possible. Because of this, they’ll be on the lookout for drunk drivers. That means more cops on the road – and plenty of sobriety checkpoints.
If you plan on going to a barbecue or an event where there will be alcohol, choose a designated driver or call a taxi to ensure you get home safely. Even if you drive to an event and end up drinking, it will cost substantially less than a DUI charge to leave your car there overnight and take a cab home.
Your Rights on the Road
The police may pull you over if they have reason to suspect that you are intoxicated. The following behaviors can lead to you getting questioned by a cop:
- Excessive speeding
- Swerving throughout lanes
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
- Driving at night without headlights
And if you enter a sobriety checkpoint, police may stop your car and question you even if there is nothing suspicious about your driving.
Sobriety checkpoints have been found to prevent 1 in 10 DUI-related deaths, and police see them as a quick way to catch drivers who may have had a few beers before getting behind the wheel. And before you think you can refuse checkpoints by invoking your rights under unlawful search and seizure, think again. Sobriety checkpoints have been determined legal in Florida and upheld by the U.S. Constitution as an exception to traditional search and seizure laws.
Until and unless the law changes, this is one invasion that you have to put up with.
So how should you handle sobriety checkpoints? If you are pulled over or enter a sobriety checkpoint during Fourth of July weekend, you may get nervous and not know what to do or how to interact with police officers. Remain calm, and remember the below tips:
- You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions beyond providing your license and registration. If the police ask you if you have been drinking, you can simply say, “No comment.”
- While you are required to show your license and registration to the police, you do not have to hand it over.
- The police do not have the right to search your car without probable cause or your consent. If you get out of your car, you have the right to lock it up to prevent an illegal search.
- Although a driver license suspension and separate criminal charge may result, you may refuse to submit to a breath test.
- You do not have to take field sobriety tests. If you are arrested for DUI such refusal would be admissible at trial, but there certainly are reasonable explanations for the refusal as a part of your defense.
Remember, a DUI charge comes with heavy fines and severe penalties. Plus, it’s a big hassle – take it seriously.
Florida is determined to crack down on drunk driving, so if you are charged with DUI, you need to get serious about your defense. Contact an experienced Florida DUI lawyer today.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.