Florida Arrest Technique in DUI Cases Questioned

Florida police have been employing a handcuffing technique that is creating debate within its ranks. It relies on the element of surprise after requesting Florida DUI suspects to begin a fake field sobriety test. Once the motorists assume a stance with their hands at their sides and their eyes closed, the officer quickly places handcuffs on their wrists.

No warning. No professional courtesy.

The arrest technique has come into question after a videotape was released that showed a police officer using excessive force during a DUI arrest. The DUI suspect appeared taken off-guard and tried to turn around, only to be slammed into a nearby truck, put in a headlock and kneed several times.

DUI defense attorneys and criminal justice experts feel the ‘surprise arrest’ tactic is unusual and troublesome because it can turn a peaceful arrest into a potentially dangerous situation. “I’ve been in law enforcement a whole lot of years, but this doesn’t make sense to me,” said Dale Carson, an attorney, former police officer and FBI agent who specializes in DUI arrests. “It’s subject to cause more trouble than it’s worth. Why would you treat someone like that? I don’t see that as reasonable policing.”

The surprise arrest tactic has even been used on a 69-year-old man and on a woman, despite the fact that they were neither belligerent nor resisting.

Proponents of the practice state that intoxicated people are unpredictable and it is better to quickly handcuff a Florida DUI suspect and prevent them from fighting with the arresting officer.

Chuck Chambers, a private investigator and former police officer, said that he made hundreds of Florida DUI arrests and never had to take anyone by surprise. He only had to tell suspects they were under arrest and ask them to put their hands behind their back. Referring to the necessity of the surprise technique, he said, “You could also drop-kick them in the chin. But it’s about what’s reasonable in the situation.”

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