Many DUI charges arise out of traffic stops that occur because of erratic driving or other circumstances that indicate a driver may be intoxicated. While the police are permitted to stop motorists, they generally must have a reasonable belief that a person is committing a crime or is about to engage in criminal activity for a stop to be lawful. There is an exception, though, for DUI checkpoints. In other words, under Florida law, the police are permitted to stop motorists without cause to assess whether they may be impaired without violating their rights. The police must comply with specific parameters when they conduct DUI checkpoints, though, and if they do not, they may overstep their lawful rights. If you are charged with a DUI following a stop at a checkpoint, you should meet with a trusted Sarasota DUI defense attorney to assess your options.
Florida’s DUI Checkpoint Rules
Florida is one of several states where it is lawful for the police to set up DUI checkpoints. The police must abide by certain rules and regulations when setting up and conducting checkpoints, though. First, checkpoints cannot be conducted in secret. In other words, the police must notify the public of checkpoints. Specifically, they must publish the location and the date of the checkpoint prior to when it is set up. The checkpoint must also be conducted in compliance with certain guidelines, which means, in part, that officers cannot randomly or discriminately stop certain vehicles but must have clear procedures regarding who will be stopped.
Additionally, police officers are limited by a three-minute rule. In other words, they cannot detain a driver for more than three minutes in most circumstances. If a stop exceeds three minutes, the checkpoint should be suspended, and the police should only stop select vehicles until the traffic is stopped for less than three minutes.
During a traffic stop, an officer will typically observe a person’s demeanor and speech. The police will also assess whether motorists have an odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, or other factors that indicate potential intoxication. If an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is impaired, he or she may ask the person to submit to field sobriety testing or a breath test. Drivers who refuse to provide a breath sample may face additional penalties. Notably, however, a person cannot be compelled to submit to a blood test absent a warrant.
Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida
There are numerous rules the police must follow when conducting a DUI checkpoint, and if they fail to do so, arrests arising out of the stop may be unlawful. If you are charged with a DUI offense following a stop at a checkpoint, it is smart to speak to an attorney about your rights. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced Sarasota DUI defense attorney with the knowledge and resources needed to help criminal defendants seek favorable outcomes, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Hanlon via the form online or at 941-462-1789 to set up a meeting.