Florida DUI Checkpoint Laws
When you drive up to a long line of cars waiting at a driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoint, it’s easy to get frustrated about the wait — or to get nervous cause you had something to drink.
While you’re thinking of this checkpoint at the moment, the reality is that this operation has been in the works for much longer than that. With this in mind, let’s look at what goes into planning a Florida DUI checkpoint.
What is a DUI Checkpoint?
At a DUI checkpoint, police stop drivers in a pattern. Once they have stopped a car, the offices are evaluating the driver for signs of impairment through drugs or alcohol. The first thing to note about a DUI checkpoint is that it must be part of an ongoing program to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Therefore, a DUI checkpoint must be one of the many ways the police are preventing driving while under the influence.
Judges Are Informed
If the police want to set up a DUI checkpoint, they will most likely inform the county’s judge of the proposed inspection and the procedures that the police will follow while running the checkpoint.
If a police department wants to run a DUI checkpoint, the department itself must have regulations and policies on how to properly conduct a sobriety checkpoint. Therefore, any police who will run the checkpoint will have to show they know how to run the checkpoint efficiently and in a legal manner.
Stipulations for the Spot of the Checkpoint
A police department can’t set up a checkpoint wherever they like; they must choose where they will run the checkpoint based on several principles.
Police must choose the location of the checkpoint based on the following criteria:
- The checkpoint must be done in the interest of public safety
- The checkpoint must be chosen for a specific objective (lots of drunk driving accidents occur at this intersection or something along those lines)
DUI Checkpoint Signs
When police set up a DUI checkpoint, they must warn approaching drivers of the sobriety checkpoint up ahead (usually with signs or other markings). The police and police vehicles used in the checkpoint must be readily apparent to drivers.
As the goal of a DUI checkpoint is to deter drivers from driving while under the influence, a sobriety checkpoint must be publicized aggressively to the community. Publicizing a DUI checkpoint is known to decrease the number of people who drink and driver, and therefore, DUI checkpoints must be publicized.
Breathalyzer or Chemical Test Sites Within Reach
Police must have a mobile breathalyzer on-site at the checkpoint, or police must be able to expeditiously transport those accused of a DUI to a place where they can be tested.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Florida?
It is unconstitutional for police to stop vehicles without establishing probable cause. However, DUI checkpoints override this law because DUIs are so dangerous to the community; but, police have to follow a predetermined plan when stopping vehicles.
For example, the department running the checkpoint may determine they will stop every 4th vehicle that drives through the checkpoint. If they make this plan, any deviation from this plan must be well documented.
Florida DUI Checkpoint Defense
As you can see, DUI checkpoints are carefully planned and executed. If you or a loved ever come across a DUI checkpoint, it’s in your best interest to treat the checkpoint as constitutional. If you believe an officer failed to follow proper protocol during a DUI stop, and you are accused of a DUI, it’s time to talk to a criminal defense attorney about your options.