DUI checkpoints were created to increase public safety by reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road. They are designed to be prohibitive, with the threat of encountering a DUI checkpoint making someone less likely to get behind the wheel while under the influence.
Due to the aggressive nature of these roadblocks, many people question whether or not DUI checkpoints are legal in Florida and other states. It is argued that the dragnet nature of these measures violate the fourth amendment and may be used to put people in legal jeopardy for other unrelated offenses.
The following information about DUI checkpoints and their legality can help you better understand this question, as well as your rights if you find yourself pulled over into one.
What Is a DUI Checkpoint?
DUI, which stands for driving under the influence, is a term describing driving or operating any motor vehicle while under the influence or impairment of alcohol or narcotics. Like other states, Florida has laws around the prohibition of driving while intoxicated, and police have the right to pull over motorists and perform a test if they believe there is probable cause.
In Florida, the legal limit for driving under the influence is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more.
A DUI checkpoint, or sobriety checkpoint, is a roadside stop where police officers pull randomly selected motorists off the road. The goal is to check to ensure that drivers are within the legal BAC limit. Anyone suspected of being intoxicated can be subjected to a field sobriety test (FST) and chemical tests such as a breathalyzer.
Law enforcement will commonly set up DUI checkpoints on holiday weekends or near bars, popular restaurants, or events.
What Is the Legality of DUI Checkpoints in the State of Florida?
There have been attempts across the US to challenge the legality of DUI checkpoints on fourth amendment grounds. The fourth amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. Currently, 38 states and the District of Columbia permit law enforcement to set up DUI checkpoints, including Florida.
Understand Your Rights if You Are Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint
Officers at DUI checkpoints must select cars randomly under a neutral formula, such as every third car. Although it is legal to turn around before a checkpoint, this could potentially lead to additional attention from law enforcement and they could pull over this motorist based on erratic driving or a traffic violation. This is why drivers should generally cooperate and enter a DUI checkpoint if they are selected.
The officers will ask drivers entering a DUI checkpoint questions regarding their activities to determine if there is probable cause for suspicion of drunk driving. Motorists are within their rights to refuse this search, but doing so may also attract additional attention. Whether they refuse or consent, motorists should always take a non-confrontational approach to interacting with officers of the law.
If there is behavior that indicates potential for DUI, the next step is to conduct a field sobriety test. This may consist of actions such as:
- Touching your nose
- Walking in a straight line
- Standing on one leg
Once again, motorists are not legally obligated to consent to an FST, but being hostile or excessively confrontational may be grounds for arrest.
Citizens placed under arrest for DUI may then be subjected to a breathalyzer or other chemical tests. Drivers can refuse, but there may be penalties for refusing, such as suspension of your license.
Anyone arrested at a DUI checkpoint should be cooperative — and seek the best possible legal representation. Police officers have very strict rules and guidelines to follow when conducting DUI checkpoints and any FST or chemical tests. An experienced attorney knows how to ensure compliance and confirm these tests were conducted legally. DUI arrests do not always mean convictions, and the right legal representation can help uphold your rights under the law.
Call Clark Law for a Free Consultation if You’ve Been Arrested for DUI in Florida
If you or someone close to you has been arrested after a DUI checkpoint and you don’t know how to move forward, let us help you. Our legal experts will ensure you have the best outcome possible. Call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.