Illegal DUI Checkpoints
West Palm Beach DUI Attorney
In Florida, it is legal for law enforcement officials to utilize sobriety checkpoints to intercept any intoxicated drivers. In order to be considered legal, DUI checkpoints must meet certain standards, and a failure to do so could result in the dismissal of a DUI charge. If you or a loved one were detained at an illegal DUI checkpoint, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your interests.
In Florida, there is a longstanding precedent that, although law enforcement must have probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, one of the few exceptions to the rule is the DUI checkpoint. This is in large part due to the fact that the minor infringement on Fourth Amendment rights is considered overshadowed by the public benefit of preventing drunk drivers from operating vehicles on roadways.
In order to ensure that checkpoints are not abused, Florida requires that law enforcement adhere to certain requirements established by the National Highway Safety Transportation Board. For instance, police officers must stop every car or a predetermined number of cars to examine drivers for signs of impairment.
Additionally, Florida law requires that any vehicle that entered a designated checkpoint site cannot be detained in traffic for more than three minutes. If the three-minute time limit is exceeded, the supervising officer is required to order an alternate count. Once traffic has lessened, the officers will resume using the first method.
Checkpoints can be suspended for a variety of other reasons, including:
- A shortage of law enforcement manpower;
- Allowing an emergency vehicle to pass through the checkpoint;
- An emergency situation;
- Unfavorable weather conditions; and
- Any extreme situation where immediate suspension is necessary for the safety of the motorists.
Each DUI checkpoint must follow other guidelines, including that:
- It have an operational plan that was submitted prior to its use;
- If approved, the checkpoint go completely according to the operational plan;
- There be a clear notification through advertisement via the web or other media source of when the checkpoint will occur;
- The intentions of the stop be clear;
- It be marked with cones, signs, lights, or officers directing traffic;
- Its duration be limited;
- Cars be chosen at random, or by a predetermined formula, and officers not discriminate against a person because of race, age, gender, or ethnicity;
- It be administered safely;
- A law enforcement supervisor be present at all times and make all major decisions;
- Locations be selected by policymakers based on drunk driving statistics;
- Law enforcement officers use professional police conduct; and
- Any suspected intoxicated drivers be placed under arrest, notified of their Miranda rights, and temporarily detained in a proper area for a minimum amount of time.
DUI convictions can have a significant impact on a person’s employment opportunities, housing, and personal life. If you or a loved one have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Florida, it is important to retain the services of an attorney experienced in defending DUI charges. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein, and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a free consultation.