You have probably seen or heard about DUI checkpoints. These are also known as sobriety checkpoints and are conducted by law enforcement in order to locate DUI offenders. These checkpoints are often located near bars and restaurants and take place during the late evening and early morning hours. Often, they are set up on holiday weekends when there could be a higher potential for drunk driving. Many people wonder whether these checkpoints are legal and whether they need to stop for them.
DUI Checkpoints in Florida
It may seem to some people that having to stop at a sobriety checkpoint is an infringement on their legal rights. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that these sobriety checkpoints are generally legal and do not violate your constitutional rights. Although the law does not require states to participate in DUI checkpoints, Florida has decided to continue with them. Only a handful of states have a ban on checkpoints.
The Florida Supreme Court has provided some instructions for how law enforcement agencies handle sobriety checkpoints. Law enforcement agencies must adopt a written guideline before they implement a checkpoint. This document should detail specifics about how the checkpoint is to be conducted. Local officers must follow the guidelines provided for each checkpoint they implement.
Do I Have to Stop at a Sobriety Checkpoint?
The short answer is yes, you must stop at a sobriety checkpoint when directed to do so by a member of law enforcement. If your vehicle is selected, you will be asked to pull to the side and provide the officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. If you fail to comply, you will likely be facing additional charges.
The same holds true if you choose to avoid a checkpoint altogether. For instance, you are driving along and notice a checkpoint ahead. Rather than go through the checkpoint you decide to turn around and head in a different direction. In all likelihood, a police officer will pull you over for this offense.
Your Rights at Sobriety Checkpoints
Checkpoints must be conducted randomly. In other words, an officer must follow the rules that were put in place for that particular checkpoint and cannot target specific vehicles or drivers. For instance, the guidelines might call for officers to stop every third vehicle. They then can not decide to pull over another vehicle with no cause.
If the officer suspects that you might have been drinking, he or she may ask you to step out of the car to conduct some field sobriety tests. These are tests you might have seen before such as the walk and turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze Nystagmus test. These are not mandatory, but if you refuse to perform them, the officer may have reason to suspect that you have been drinking and may request that you submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusing to submit to a breath test could result in the suspension of your license and a separate charge.
DUI charges are complicated, and if you are convicted, you could face a number of penalties that include fines, a jail sentence, participation in an alcohol education program, and more. In addition, your license could be suspended and your insurance rates could go up. It is best to fight DUI charges whenever possible to prevent a conviction.
If you were charged with DUI in Brevard County, contact the experienced legal team at Henderson Legal Group today to discuss your case.