You can’t plan for everything, and running into a DUI checkpoint is something you never expect; however, this Hager & Schwartz blog post can help you make the best of an unfortunate situation. Listen up and find out what you need to know about Florida DUI checkpoints.
1. DUI Checkpoints Are Legal
Unfortunately, the spread of misinformation is a common occurrence in the age of the internet, and this is especially true when it comes to an understanding of the law. Police can lie to you, putting a penny under your tongue doesn’t trick a breathalyzer, and DUI checkpoints are legal (in certain states)!
For police to run a DUI checkpoint in Florida, they must adhere to several rules and regulations to get the go-ahead from various authorities. Therefore, if you see a DUI checkpoint in Florida, there is no doubt the police are well within their rights to run it.
What Does This Mean for You?
If the police ask you to stop, you must stop! Blowing by the police saying a DUI checkpoint is unconstitutional is a surefire way to get arrested. You have many rights in America, but driving through a DUI checkpoint without stopping when asked is not one of them.
Additionally, it’s not recommended to tell police that a DUI checkpoint is unconstitutional even if you do stop. You’re mistaken, the police working the checkpoint probably don’t want to hear it, and all you’re doing is drawing a target on your back.
2. You Can Avoid a DUI Checkpoint with Legal Traffic Maneuvers
When setting up a DUI checkpoint, the police must set up signs warning drivers of the checkpoint up ahead. Therefore, if you come across a DUI checkpoint, you’ll likely be warned of its existence before you reach the police.
Now, if you see a DUI checkpoint up ahead and can legally turnaround or otherwise avoid the blockade, you have the right to do so. If officers watch drivers make legal U-turns to avoid going through a DUI checkpoint, all they can do is wave goodbye because they don’t have probable cause to pull these drivers over.
However, if you make an illegal traffic maneuver to avoid a DUI checkpoint, police will undoubtedly pull you over because they have probable cause to do so. Therefore, if you’re in a situation where you have no legal way to avoid the checkpoint, you must go through it!
Therefore, it’s legal to avoid DUI checkpoints if you can legally maneuver away from them.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you’re approaching a DUI checkpoint and are worried about being pulled over, you are legally allowed to take a different route to get to your destination. For example, you can turn or make a U-turn to avoid a DUI checkpoint and police can’t pull you over.
However, you cannot make illegal traffic maneuvers to avoid a DUI checkpoint. Therefore, if you’re stuck in line before a DUI checkpoint, and you don’t have the means to take a different route legally, you’re going through it.
3. You Can Decline to Answer Police Questions
If you’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you will likely face police questions; however, you do not have to answer these questions. Our fifth amendment rights say we don’t have to incriminate ourselves when asked a question by police officers and other law authorities; in other words, you have the right to remain silent when asked questions.
What Does This Mean for You?
Staying completely silent when asked a question may feel unnatural or rude. Therefore, the best way to answer an officer who asks you a question like, “have you had anything to drink tonight?” is, “I decline to answer,” or something like that.
It’s important to note that when an officer asks for your registration and license, you should give it to them no questions asked. Silence is not the same as non-compliance, so make sure you're courteous and follow orders.
4. Cops Running a Checkpoint Must Follow Certain Standards
As previously stated, police must follow specific rules and regulations when running a DUI checkpoint. Two rules and regulations of note are:
- Police must reasonably run the DUI checkpoint;
- Officers must follow a random and fair procedure when pulling over drivers.
First, police are required by law to run DUI checkpoints reasonably. Therefore, if a DUI checkpoint unreasonably holds up traffic, the entire operation’s legality may be jeopardized.
Second, police must follow a random and fair procedure when pulling over drivers at a DUI checkpoint. Typically, officers can’t pull over drivers unless they can establish probable cause (in other words, a legitimate reason to stop the driver.) However, at their core, DUI checkpoints break this rule because cops are stopping people with no reason.
Unfortunately, the number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers is high enough that American authorities are willing to forgo the probable cause requirement during DUI checkpoints. However, at DUI checkpoints police are still barred from pulling drivers over based on anything other than a driver breaking the law, or by a random and fair procedure (e.g., stopping every 4th car that drives through the checkpoint.)
What This Means for You
If the police break either of these regulations during a DUI checkpoint, the constitutionality of the checkpoint is in question. That’s why it’s good to collect and remember any data you can think of when traveling through a DUI checkpoint and to talk to an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible if you’re charged.
What do you need to know about Florida DUI checkpoints? They are legal, you can avoid them, you don’t have to answer questions, and police must follow certain standards when conducting them. If you or a loved one is accused of drinking while under the influence, Hager & Schwartz is here to help!
Charged at a DUI checkpoint? Call (305) 330-1360 now for a free consultation for your case!