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Are DUI Checkpoints Unconstitutional? One Attorney Thinks So

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

February 19, 2015

A lawyer in Florida has been arguing that DUI checkpoints are a violation of constitutional rights. The argument is on the basis of whether or not implementing these checkpoints is legally sound, or practical. By law, every citizen does have the right to remain silent and consult with an attorney before responding to questioning. To uphold this right, the lawyer and his legal team created what is called the Fair DUI Flyer. Several citizens have already used this flyer to pass through checkpoints without even having to roll down their windows. Using the flyer to communicate the driver’s message, it is placed up against the glass, along with license and registration.

The flyer states the following motions:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to retain an attorney
  • They do not consent to a search of the vehicle

One of the reasons why he and dozens of other legal professionals are in agreement with this stance is that they are not trying to shield drunk drivers from facing punishment, but to protect the rights of those who are innocent. Officers have been known to arrest people for drunk driving because they believed they detected a whiff of alcohol on their breath, even after passing a breath test.

U.S. Supreme Court Support of Checkpoints

In the 1990 case, Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, several of the state’s residents complained that random DUI checkpoints placed a violation on Fourth Amendment rights of unreasonable search and seizure. Eventually, the case was ruled against the plaintiffs, stating that there was nothing unreasonable about the procedures at DUI checkpoints. Furthermore, the because the state had had a vested interest in preventing drunk drivers from taking the road, the checkpoints were more helpful than not in attaining that.

Is there a loophole in the law?

More likely than not, the lawyer argued, even if a drunk driver were to use this tactic to avoid being arrested, it may not work to their advantage. A trained officer can still recognize the signs of drunkenness, such as clumsiness or impaired motor function, even through the glass. That is why there is little doubt that this will allow drunk drivers to roam freely. The lawyer also believes that once the flyer receives more national recognitions, the Supreme Court may revisit the idea of outlawing random DUI checkpoints in the future.

Were you charged with a DUI? Speak to the Miami DUI attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. about your case. Our knowledge of the law can be useful for protecting your rights.