MIAMI – (CBS4) – DUI checkpoints are commonplace around the holidays, but a recent change in the law could make it easier for drunk drivers to end up behind bars.
Florida is now one of several states holding “no refusal” checkpoints. It means that anyone who refuses a breath test could be forced to undergo a mandatory blood test. A judge is on site and ready to issue an order requiring a blood test. Several counties have already done it.
“I think it’s a great deterrent for people,” said Linda Unfried, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “I think you’ll see the difference because people will not drink and drive. I truly believe that.”
But others say the measure goes too far and violates basic constitutional rights.
“It’s a slippery slope and I think it’s got to stop somewhere,” said DUI defense attorney Kevin Hayslett. “What other misdemeanor offense do we have in the United States where the government can forcefully put a needle into your arm — either to take your blood or put something in your system? It makes no sense.”
The federal government data shows Florida has among the highest rate of breathalyzer refusal.
Stephen Daniels is a DUI consultant and an expert witness in DUI cases.
“Now you’ve got attorneys telling their clients don’t blow, don’t blow, because we know from the results from these machines that they’re not operating as the state or the government says they’re supposed to operate,” Daniels said.
Unfried said she hopes the measure prevents deaths.
“We don’t want to violate people’s civil rights,” she said. “That’s the last thing we want to do, but we’re here to save lives.”