On this date, Miami-Dade police officers, as well as Bal Harbour police, will be stationed at Collins Avenue and 96th Street between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. For those of you who are not familiar with this part of Miami-Dade County, Collins Avenue and 96th is right on the cusp between Bal Harbour and the Town of Surfside, to the very south. As well, this thoroughfare yields a lot of northbound traffic coming up from Miami Beach, as well as southbound traffic heading down from Broward County toward Miami Beach. In essence, the location of this checkpoint is strategic.
A DUI checkpoint is a way for police officers to investigate drivers to see if they are impaired. What happens is that police will cordon off a street and stop every couple of of cars by directing them to a stationing area, set off from the main road. DUI checkpoints constitute legitimate DUI stops provided there are written guidelines for how the checkpoint is going to be conducted, and that the public is made aware of the checkpoint.
When I was a Miami-Dade prosecutor, I had the opportunity to attend DUI checkpoints and watch police officers in action. While DUI checkpoints provide law enforcement with the opportunity to watch for impaired drivers, it also gives them an opportunity to make other arrests. Many checkpoints result in arrests for driving while license suspended (DWLS), possession of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, alprazolam, etc...), and warrants. Anybody with an outstanding bench warrant (for misdemeanors) or alias capias (felony) will be immediately taken into custody.
As a Miami DUI attorney, I am familiar with DUI checkpoints. Moreover, I am familiar with how police officers can use this as an opportunity to invade your privacy and potentially violate your right against unlawful search and seizure. Remember - police officers are not trained in the law in the way criminal defense attorneys are. They did not go to law school. They are not skilled in the intricacies and details of 4th Amendment law. They may do what they think they have the right to do, when in reality, what they have done is illegal. That is why hiring a South Florida criminal defense attorney is so crucial.
If you get a chance to read this before tonight, avoid 96th and Collins. While I would never encourage anybody to drink and drive, I have seen too many lives uprooted and horrifically inconvenienced due to a DUI arrest. Even if the client wasn't impaired. Folks, it is not a crime to drink and drive if you are over the age of 21. If that were the case, there would be only bus stops and cab stands outside of bars and restaurants. But bars and restaurants have parking lots, because so long as you are not legally impaired, it is perfectly fine to drive after consuming alcohol.
However, as I mentioned before, police officers don't always feel that way. If you have alcohol on your breath - which on a Friday night is not uncommon - chances are you will get arrested if stopped. Why even go through the hassle? Avoid 96th and Collins tonight. If heading north on Collins, use 71st Street (which will turn into NW 79th Street) to get back onto the mainland. If heading south on Collins from Sunny Isles Beach or Broward County, use State Road 826 or 125th Street through Bay Harbor Islands to get back home.
I am not telling you to evade the police, but I am telling you to stay away from them if you can. While Miami-Dade County and Bal Harbour have some excellent, well-trained officers, they are not in the business of being your pal. They have one thing in mind when conducting a DUI checkpoint: arrest all those under suspicion of DUI.
If you are reading this too late, then call my office right away. If you were caught up in this checkpoint, any other checkpoint, or were arrested for DUI period, then call me so that we can begin attacking the State's evidence. As well, contacting a DUI attorney within the first ten days after your arrest may help to save your driver's license. A DUI administrative hearing is your only chance of keeping your license after a DUI arrest. While the Florida Supreme Court no longer allows attorneys to publish case results on their websites, call me and I will tell you about some of my recent successes in DUI administrative hearings.
DUI arrests suck. No question. They are expensive, embarrassing, and inconvenient. If your employer finds out, you can be fired. If you have a professional license (medical, legal, or financial) you may be disciplined by your licensing agency. While a DUI is a misdemeanor, it can still ruin your life.
Call me and I will do everything in my power to fix it.