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Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Florida DUI Cases?


The typical scenario for a drunk driving case starts with police suspecting intoxication, pulling the motorist over, and making an arrest. Under Florida’s DUI statute, it is possible to be charged if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08 percent, as well as if officers believe that your normal faculties are impaired. As you can guess, the suspicion of intoxication usually comes when officers observe a motorist violating traffic laws, swerving, or driving erratically.

However, another way police crack down on drunk driving is to set up roadside sobriety checkpoints. Officers stop every vehicle moving through the area, looking for signs of impairment and doing tests when a driver seems intoxicated. You might think these sobriety checks seem to be a violation of privacy and other rights, but the laws are in favor of the government. A Florida criminal defense attorney can explain the legality and help fight the charges, and some details about sobriety checkpoints are helpful.

Legal Justification for Sobriety Checkpoints: These roadside stops are arguably a violation of a motorist’s civil rights, but the US Supreme Court issued a decision on the issue in 1990. The Justices found that there is an effect on the driver’s constitutional rights when police officers pull them over without a reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred. However, they also determined that the public safety interest in reducing drunk driving is an overriding concern. The SCOTUS opinion found that roadside sobriety checkpoints are legal, as long as they comply with certain criteria.

 Requirements for a Legal Checkpoint: Police tend to schedule sobriety checkpoints at places where drunk driving is prevalent, and they often aim for holiday periods when motorists are likely to be celebrating with a few drinks. However, a key requirement is that officers must publicize DUI checkpoints in advance, along with additional criteria.

  • The publication must notify motorists when and where the stops will take place.
  • When selecting a vehicle to stop, there must be a formula used by officers. They can stop every vehicle, every third car, and so on.
  • To conduct a roadside test, police still need sufficient reason to believe the motorist is intoxicated. Blurry eyes, the aroma of alcohol, and slurred speech are examples.

Penalties for DUI in Florida: If convicted of drunk driving in Florida, there are penalties that affect your driving privileges. You could lose your driver’s license for 180 days to a year. DUI is also a crime in Florida, so you could be sentenced to six months in jail for a first-time offense. The penalties and suspension period increase significantly for second and third offenses.

Get in Touch with a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Right Away

Sobriety checkpoints are another tool law enforcement uses to pursue drunk drivers, but officials must still meet legal requirements. For more information on defending DUI charges, please contact Linkhorst Law Firm, P.A. You can set up a consultation by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting us online. Our office serves clients throughout Palm Beach County with criminal matters, and we look forward to working with you.



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