Whether you are drinking and driving or sober and driving, no one wants to come across a DUI checkpoint. DUI checkpoints bring up anxiety and no one ever seems to know what is legal and not legal surrounding these checkpoints.
The attorneys at Stechschulte Nell law have put together a list of four things Florida residents should know about DUI checkpoints so you are better prepared when the time comes.
Four Things to Know About DUI Checkpoints in Florida
1. DUI Checkpoints Are Legal
In Florida, DUI checkpoints are allowed. Police must abide by several rules and regulations when conducting these checkpoints, but know they are legal and constitutional, and you must stop!
If the police have asked you to stop and pull over, you must stop, or you can be arrested. Arguing with a police officer about whether they can conduct a DUI checkpoint is not a great idea if you are trying to get past the DUI checkpoint without an arrest.
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2. DUI Checkpoints Must Follow Certain Standards
We now know that DUI checkpoints are legal and that police must follow certain rules and regulations when conducting them. The two most notable rules and regulations they must follow are:
- Police officers must reasonably run the DUI checkpoint
- Police officers must follow a random and fair procedure when pulling over drivers
By law, police officers must reasonably run the DUI checkpoints. This means that they cannot do anything unreasonable without it being illegal. For example, if the checkpoint unreasonably holds up traffic, the police officers must stop the checkpoint.
Additionally, we have all probably heard that a police officer needs to have probable cause to pull someone over, so how does that legally work with checkpoints? American authorities can randomly and fairly pull over drivers at checkpoints, because of the high number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers—the benefit to society outweighs the technical legal nuance. But going into the checkpoint, officers must make a fair and random selection, such as only pulling over every 3rd car, etc.
3. You Can Legally Avoid a DUI Checkpoint
We just stated that DUI checkpoints are constitutional and legal, but it is also legal to avoid a checkpoint with legal traffic maneuvers. What does this mean and how can you safely and legally get around one?
A police officer cannot pull you over for avoiding a DUI checkpoint
as they do not have probable cause.
One of the rules and regulations that police must abide by when conducting a DUI checkpoint is to set up signs that warn drivers of the checkpoint ahead. No driver should be taken by surprise when they come to the checkpoint.
As a driver, you can legally turn around to avoid the checkpoint when you first see the signs. Even if the officer watches you make a U-turn to avoid the checkpoint, they cannot pull you over because they do not have probable cause. The only way they can pull you over is if you turn around illegally…so make sure you follow all the proper rules of the road.
It is important to note that if there is no legal way to turn around to avoid the checkpoint, you must go through it.
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4. You Do Not Have To Answer Any Questions
You heard that right! If you are stopped at the DUI checkpoint, you know that a police officer will start asking you questions. Most people assume they must answer these questions but know that it is in your fifth amendment right to not incriminate yourself. In other words, you have the right to remain silent whenever asked questions by the police.
It is important to not mistake silence for non-compliance. When a police officer asks to see your license and registration, you must follow orders and show them. It is also recommended that you remain courteous and even if you chose to decline to answer, that instead of remaining silent, you respond with a phrase like “I decline to answer that.”
Once at the station, call a friend, relative, or save our number just in case – that way someone knows you’re safe and that you need help right away. Depending on the specifics of your DUI case, you may be released later that evening and given a date to appear in court. Remember: you will not be able to drive (you’ll immediately lose your driver’s license after the arrest), so plan to have someone who can come get you.
Pulled Over At A DUI Checkpoint?
If you, or a loved one, have been pulled over at a DUI checkpoint and accused of drinking and driving, you need to speak with an attorney at Stechschulte Nell Law right away. We will work with you to make sure the police officers used all appropriate rules and regulations when setting up the DUI checkpoint and making sure that the cars stopped were done fairly and at random. Our DUI attorneys will also request the police report from your arrest as it can impact your defense.
Our attorneys will be able to question the constitutionality of the checkpoint and help defend you and your rights. Call our South Tampa, FL defense firm at 813-280-1244 for a free DUI case consultation. We’re here 24/7 to help you move forward and mitigate any long-term impact DUI charges may have on your future.