St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular drinking holidays in the U.S., and along with that distinction comes the inevitability of DUI checkpoints. Florida is one of 38 states that allows the use of DUI checkpoints. However, there are strict rules for how the checkpoints must be conducted, and violations of these rules can invalidate the stop leading to dismissal of your DUI charges. When you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you have rights. In fact, you have the right to avoid checkpoints altogether as long as you can do so without making any illegal traffic maneuvers.
DUI Checkpoint Planning and Public Announcements
DUI checkpoints have been and still are controversial. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are constitutionally permissible, but with some restrictions.
DUI checkpoints must be planned, not spontaneous, and the time and date of the checkpoint must be announced to the public. There must be a valid reason for conducting the checkpoint, such as elevated drunk driving accidents on that route. There must also be a plan the designates which vehicles will be stopped, so that officers are not given a choice of who to stop. For instance, every vehicle or every third vehicle. The purpose is to prevent profiling based on race, appearance or the vehicle’s appearance.
In Florida, law enforcement agencies must have written guidelines for each checkpoint and officers must follow the guidelines when conducting the roadblock.
Safety, Warning Signs, Your Right to Turn Around
Florida DUI checkpoints must be clearly visible, with clearly visible official vehicles and officers in uniform. They must be marked with warning signs well ahead of the roadblock so that drivers have time to slow down for safety even if the line created by the checkpoint is very long. This warning is also to give drivers the chance to avoid the checkpoint altogether if they so choose. You have the right to choose a different route when you see the signs that a checkpoint is ahead. As long as you do not make any illegal maneuvers in the process, your avoidance of a DUI checkpoint is not an excuse for law enforcement to pull you over.
To learn more about Florida DUI checkpoints and your rights, call the Law Offices of Lee P. Marks, P.A. at 305-444-3343 or contact us online today.