DUI checkpoints (or "sobriety checkpoints") are a legal reality for drivers here in Florida. There's a lot of conflicting public information on how drivers should proceed when at these police-conducted stops, what to do if there is an arrest, and what their legal options might be. Below, let's look at some of the most commonly asked questions about Florida DUI checkpoints.
DUI checkpoints are locations where law enforcement will stop all passing cars and check them for signs of drunk driving. They are usually set up in areas where drunk driving is known to occur and meant to stop intoxicated drivers and deter others from getting on the road.
Law enforcement will briefly stop drivers, ask for identification, and conduct a short interview. There may also be sobriety tests if police believe that the driver has been drinking. In cases where the drivers exhibit certain signs, a breathalyzer test may be administered and an arrest might be made.
DUI checkpoints have been a hotly debated topic across the country—they're even illegal in some states. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled that states can enact them if they choose, stating that the dangers of drunk driving outweigh any assertion of citizen rights in these brief instances. Florida is one of the states that has chosen to enact these laws.
Just like in a normal DUI stop, a driver can refuse to comply with officers, but it will come with consequences. Florida's implied consent laws will still apply.
In some instances, a judge will be stationed with law enforcement at these checkpoints, ready to issue warrants for blood tests of suspected drivers who refuse the breathalyzer. While this is rare and invasive, it is, unfortunately, legal.
If you find yourself in line at a DUI checkpoint, all the same legal advice for a police stop still applies: cooperate. If you are arrested and there are issues with your case, that's a matter for the courtroom, not there on the road. Many drivers feel that this policing method is an infringement upon them—and it can be—but arguing with officers there on the road will only make things worse.
If you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint, then it is time to speak with defense counsel. The experienced Tampa attorneys at Taracks & Associates are well-versed in DUI checkpoint matters and can assuredly navigate your case to the best possible outcome.