A review of 4 KEY topics You MUST Know by ➪ Boca Raton ➪
DUI Checkpoints and Sobriety Checkpoints
in West Palm Beach

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You’ve probably seen them before. Police officers park their cars on a particular street, set up traffic barriers, and then randomly stop drivers to investigate them for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Is the resulting bottleneck properly called a checkpoint or a roadblock?

Both terms are correct.

“DUI Checkpoints” is just a fancy name for a police roadblock. Police set up DUI checkpoints as a traffic-safety measure to identify drivers whose senses have become unlawfully impaired by the ingestion of alcohol or drugs.

Also known as “sobriety checkpoints,” DUI checkpoints are most commonly set up in high-traffic areas, especially in the evening and on holiday weekends.

What happens at DUI Checkpoints?

When you stop at a DUI checkpoint, an officer, sometimes more than one, will approach your vehicle.

While asking you questions, perhaps about where you are coming from and where you are going to, or whether you have been drinking, the officer will be observing your face, your hands, and your general demeanor to determine if you are showing any of the classic signs of driving under the influence, such as watery or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or the smell of alcohol emanating from your breath, your clothes, or the inside of your vehicle.

If the officer identifies any signs of possible DUI, whether, in your appearance, your behavior, or your answers, he will ask you to exit your car to perform some roadside exercises such as walking a straight line, standing on one foot with your eyes closed, and reciting the alphabet.

Suppose the officer concludes that you have not, in his opinion, performed the exercise adequately. In that case, he will plac

DUI Checkpoints and Sobriety Checkpoints
DUI Checkpoints and Sobriety Checkpoints

e you under arrest and charge you with driving under the influence in violation of Florida law.

What are my legal rights when stopped at a DUI checkpoint?

The Founding Fathers of our country were wise and insightful men.

They knew that, while the government is necessary for an ordered and civil society, power invariably corrupts.

The Founding Fathers also recognized that without fixed safeguards, those with the power to govern, even in a democracy, will soon deprive people of their cherished rights to live in freedom.

So, the United States Constitution endows you with some fundamental rights, rights you can invoke when stopped at a DUI checkpoint.

  1. Florida law, generally, does not require drivers to answer questions posed by police at a DUI checkpoint. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Florida law allows you to refuse an officer’s request that you perform roadside exercises.

This right is potentially an important one because, while the performance of such exercises may look simple when the officer demonstrates them (because the officer has demonstrated them countless times over many months and years), in fact, their performance by a driver who has never encountered them before, (especially late at night in a state of fatigue, with other cars speeding by, police lights flashing, while fearing arrest) can present an unfair challenge.

Florida law-enforcement officers frequently use a “breathalyzer” machine to measure the alcohol content in a driver’s breath. But police must maintain breathalyzer machines according to strict legal requirements, and every part of the procedure must also comply with laws to protect a driver’s rights.

If an officer requests a sample of your breath, can you refuse?

You can, but the penalty, which is almost automatic, is harsh.

Refusal, with rare exceptions, will immediately suspend your driver’s license for one year. The driver is entitled to an administrative review hearing with the DHSMV to challenge the license suspension. The license suspension will stand even if you are later found innocent of driving under the influence.

Suppose you refused to provide a breath sample in a prior DUI investigation. A second refusal is punished by suspension of your driver’s license for eighteen months. Worse, the second refusal constitutes a crime that can subject the driver, upon conviction, to up to a year in the county jail.

Refusing a breath test is usually recommended if you consumed alcohol that day. Each case is different, but the general rule of thumb is it’s best to refuse all “testing” if being investigated for driving under the influence, including, but not limited to, field sobriety exercises and the breath test. The less evidence you supply to law enforcement during its investigation, the harder it becomes for law enforcement to prove the crime of driving under the influence in court or at an administrative review hearing.

Remember, the law gives drivers little time, only 10 days from the date of the incident, to challenge these administrative suspensions.

So, if you refuse to provide a breath sample, it is important to contact an attorney without delay.

Have you been arrested at a sobriety checkpoint for driving under the influence?

If you have been arrested for DUI, call me for a free consultation about your case and the legal defenses available.

-Josh LeRoy

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