Jacksonville, Florida police have indicated that they intend to make more DUI (also referred to as drunk driving or driving under the influence) arrests this weekend as it falls on the New Year’s holiday. People in the Jacksonville, Florida area can expect Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Florida Highway Patrol officers to be on the lookout for people they suspect are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are also setting up DUI checkpoints in the Jacksonville area.
Of course, for anyone who plans to drink this weekend, having a designated driver or taking a cab is always the best option. However, the other side of the coin in these situations where the police are making a concerted effort to make DUI arrests is that police often tend to draw conclusions first and work on the evidence later when they believe someone is DUI. A DUI arrest is very subjective. A DUI arrest is often the result of a police officer who is already looking for DUI suspects deciding that a person is impaired from alcohol and then making very subjective observations that are consistent with that foregone conclusion. These same observations that police officers write in their reports over and over again include: odor of alcohol, bloodshot and glassy eyes, slurred speech and swaying. Of course, all of those are subjective conclusions, and none of them prove that a person is impaired. From there, the police officer will likely ask the DUI suspect to participate in the field sobriety exercises. These are very difficult coordination and balance exercises administered under difficult conditions when the suspect is often very nervous. Whether a person passes these exercises is completely based on the subjective opinion of the police officer who obviously already thinks the suspect is impaired or he/she would not have asked the DUI suspect to take the field sobriety tests in the first place. Under those circumstances, it may not make sense to agree to take the field sobriety tests, which are completely voluntary.
The message from the Jacksonville police is a good one- if you are going to drink, a designated driver or taxi is the best option. However, we have handled a lot of DUI’s and see how subjective the DUI arrest can be on a normal weekend. When the police make a statement that they are focusing on DUI’s during a particular weekend, the risk of more questionable DUI arrests is greater.
If you have been stopped for DUI or arrested for DUI and have questions about your rights and defenses, feel free to give us a call any time, 24 hours a day for a free consultation to learn your rights.