Sobriety Checkpoints And DUI Charges
Police departments try to crack down on drivers who drink and drive, especially around the holidays. These crackdowns are sometimes accomplished through DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks. These are traffics stops manned by police officers, where certain drivers are stopped briefly in order for the police to determine whether or not they are driving under the influence. When conducted properly, sobriety checkpoints are legal and permitted under both state law and the U.S. Constitution.
Generally, all drivers have Fourth Amendment rights not to be stopped or searched without a warrant, or without probable cause or individualized reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. However, there are exceptions to this rule for standardized checkpoints that serve legitimate law enforcement objectives, such as stopping drunk drivers and stopping them from causing accidents, and this is how sobriety checkpoints are allowed.
In Florida, law enforcement officials are supposed to stick to specific guidelines when conducting a sobriety checkpoint. These guidelines are supposed to limit the discretion that police officers running the checkpoint have. Police officers are not supposed to make their own subjective decisions on which cars to stop, instead the police are supposed to come up with a predetermined plan on how they will stop cars at the checkpoint. For example, the police could decide to stop every fourth car and check to see if those drivers are under the influence.
If the police do not follow the predetermined guidelines when conducting the stops, it could mean that the police are not allowed to use any evidence of a driver’s intoxication that was gathered following the stop at the checkpoint. Stops at a Florida sobriety checkpoint are supposed to be short in duration and last no more than a few minutes.
When a driver is stopped at a checkpoint, he may be required to display his license and registration to the police officer. During conversations with the driver, the police officer conducting the stop may use the conversation to try and determine if the driver is under the influence. The officer may be looking for signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, the odor of alcohol on the driver or in the car, bloodshot eyes, or other such signs. If the police officer can note one of these signs, he may require the driver to take additional sobriety tests. If the driver fails these tests, then he may be charged with a DUI. Drivers should remember that even though Florida is an implied consent state when it comes to DUI testing, drivers can still refuse to submit to testing. A driver who refuses to get tested may lose his license for a period of time.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you were arrested for a DUI after failing sobriety tests at a sobriety checkpoint, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Depending on the circumstances of the checkpoint, you may have a valid defense to the DUI charges. If you are facing DUI charges in West Palm Beach, Florida, contact Scott Berry Law for a free consultation today.