Florida DUI Stops and Checkpoints
The legality of a DUI stop or a DUI checkpoint in Florida can be incredibly important in a DUI case. Learn what we can do to help your case and what rights you have during a DUI stop or checkpoint.
A DUI stop
For a DUI stop, the police officer either pulls your car over or arrives at the scene of a traffic accident. Our investigation and analysis of your case begins the same way. We analyze the reasons for the officer stopping you because that can make a big difference in your case.
Why is the officer’s reason for pulling me over so important?
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects everyone from being unlawfully searched and seized. In DUI cases the most common Fourth Amendment issue is the officer’s reason for stopping your vehicle.
If the officer did not have a legally sufficient reason for the stop, we can have all of the evidence against you—field sobriety exercises, your statements, your breath test results—thrown out of court.
Why we take a detailed approach to every DUI case
An officer can stop you if he or she has probable cause to believe that you have committed a traffic infraction, like speeding, running a red light, driving without headlights at night. You can also be stopped if your driving pattern is so bad that the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that you’re impaired. In the latter case, the officer will say that your car was weaving, drifting, swerving, etc., to the extent that he believed you were impaired. But there is no hard and fast rule as to how many times you need to cross over the line before the officer can stop you.
If the evidence shows that your stop was questionable, we will have leverage in negotiations with the State Attorney’s Office that can lead to a reduced charge. At Hillsborough Defense, we have successfully argued hundreds of DUI cases, including whether the officer’s stop was justified.
Each stop is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and an effective cross-examination of the officer can be the difference between a DUI conviction and a dismissal. The little things in your case matter. This is why we pay close attention to the details of every case.
Florida DUI Checkpoints
In Florida, DUI checkpoints are one of the tools used by law enforcement to detect and deter driving under the influence. Since law enforcement agencies around the state conduct 15 to 20 DUI checkpoints each month, Florida drivers have a good chance of encountering one at some point. Educating yourself about Florida’s DUI checkpoints can help protect yourself from the severe punishments associated with DUI convictions.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Florida?
Florida is one of 38 states that use DUI checkpoints to detect people driving under the influence. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that DUI checkpoints are constitutional and do not violate a driver’s Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights.
While some states do not conduct checkpoints because of questions about privacy, Florida uses the Supreme Court’s ruling as justification for checkpoints.
Florida’s Guidelines for DUI Checkpoints
When the Supreme Court ruled checkpoints as constitutional, they set up a three-point balancing test to assure that they stay compliant with the Fourth Amendment.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DUI checkpoints must be highly visible and well-publicized events.
Often, police and sheriff departments will use ads on major media outlets, announcements on the radio and posts on their Facebook and Twitter pages to announce checkpoint dates and locations. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office keeps a running list of checkpoints on their website.
DUI checkpoints can also be used to monitor other driving issues such as:
- Seatbelt use
- Valid driver’s licenses
- Outstanding warrants
- Stolen vehicles
- Other traffic infractions
Vehicles must be stopped according to a neutral formula. How the choice is made on what car is inspected depends on where you are in the state. For example, the Miami Police Department uses a chute method where 10 randomly-selected cars are diverted and checked at one time.
Lastly, DUI checkpoints should be reasonable. It is not permissible to hold checkpoints every night in the same spot, for instance.
What Should You Do at a DUI Checkpoint?
What happens at a DUI checkpoint can be very important to your defense if you are stopped or arrested. Like other cases where you encounter law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent and request the presence of a lawyer.
Take note of all interactions and details, as they can be important to your defense if you are arrested. The criminal justice system can be intimidating, but knowledge and attention to detail, paired with the help of experienced criminal lawyers, can give you the best possible defense.