In the state of Florida, sobriety checkpoints are legal. That means police can pull over motorists without probable cause if the drivers pass through an established checkpoint, so long as certain policies and procedures are followed in establishing the checkpoint..
Even if you have not been drinking and driving, sobriety checkpoints can be nerve racking and stressful. Much of the evidence that police use to justify arresting someone for DUI is subjective, which means even sober motorists can find themselves on the wrong side of the law after passing through a DUI roadblock.
According to USA TODAY, some Floridians have tried to protect themselves at sobriety checkpoints by keeping their windows rolled up and displaying essential documents, like their driver’s license, insurance card, and vehicle registration, through the glass. By not interacting with officers, these motorists are avoiding accusations of inebriation founded on purely subjective signs like slurred speech and the scent of alcohol on their breath.
In order to take such an approach without facing any negative repercussions, it is essential to understand your rights at DUI roadblocks—and to remember that these rights vary from state to state.
If you are facing criminal charges after passing through a sobriety checkout, contact DiRenzo Defense for quality legal representation during every stage of the proceedings. Our attorneys have defended thousands of clients. Call us to schedule a free case evaluation with a DUI attorney in Fort Lauderdale.
The constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints has always been a contentious issue, and according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, officers do not conduct them in 13 states because of various interpretations of federal or state law. In the states where DUI roadblocks do exist, police have to follow specific guidelines to ensure they are not violating the Fourth Amendment, which protects against illegal search and seizure.
In order to protect motorists’ rights in the state of Florida, for example, law enforcement must have pre-written guidelines in place and follow them exactly to conduct a lawful checkpoint. They must designate officers to certain positions in the checkpoint and can’t deviate from the set plan. They must predetermine the way they will stop vehicles at random, for example, they will be allowed to only stop every third or fourth vehicle depending on the pre-written plan. Once they stop a vehicle at a checkpoint, they will determine if the driver was drinking and if they have enough evidence to conduct a DUI investigation.
The right to remain silent certainly applies during a sobriety checkpoint. If you choose to answer some questions and not others, the officer may find it suspicious, so in some cases, it is best to avoid answering any questions at all. Simply decline to answer politely but firmly. You also have the right to decline to perform any roadside sobriety exercise they request that you do. However, if you refuse the sobriety exercises, you could be subject to arrest.
You also have the right to decline a search of your vehicle. If police ask for consent to search your car, you simply have to say that you do not consent to any searches. However, if they arrest you, they can search your vehicle incident to a lawful arrest.
If you are facing DUI charges after your rights were violated at a sobriety checkpoint or traffic stop, turn to DiRenzo Defense. Unlike other law firms that practice multiple areas of law, we are solely dedicated to criminal defense.
Call us to schedule a free consultation with a DUI defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. You can learn more about fighting drinking and driving charges in Florida by visiting usattorneys.com/dui-lawyers/florida.