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Florida DUI Checkpoints Can Get Your Blood Up

Florida has instituted "no refusal" DUI checkpoints that allow police to take a blood sample from suspected offenders if they refuse a breathalyzer test, in Tampa. The difference with the "no refusal" checkpoints is that a judge will actually be at the location with police officers. If a driver refuses a breathalyzer test, the judge can immediately issue a warrant that allows police to forcibly obtain a blood test on the spot.

"It's a slippery slope, and it's got to stop somewhere," complained a local DUI attorney. "What other misdemeanor offense do we have in the United States where the government can forcefully put a needle into your arm?" The "no refusal" checkpoints do have their supporters, however. "I think it's a great deterrent for people," said a local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) representative. "I think you'll see a difference because people will not drink and drive. We don't want to violate people's rights. That's the last thing we want to do. But we're here to save lives."

DUI Checkpoints Controversial

DUI checkpoints themselves are controversial and illegal in some states. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and many state constitutions prohibit unreasonable searches of U.S. citizens unless law enforcement authorities have probable cause and reasonably believe that a crime has been committed. The debate with DUI checkpoints is whether probable cause exists when drivers are randomly stopped on the road. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal if they are allowed by state law. Some states, however, hold that their state constitutions prohibit the searches that arise from DUI checkpoints.

Florida is not among them. The use of forcible blood testing will add further fuel to the controversy. The hope is that when presented with the scenario that you can be held down by a police officer while an EMT tries to stick a needle in your arm, most drivers will voluntarily agree to the breathalyzer test. Yet questions like the reasonableness of the force used in these situations will need to be addressed. If you are arrested for DUI and forced to give a blood test, consult with an experienced Florida DUI attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.