When driving down the road in Florida, a police officer needs reasonable suspicion of DUI or another breach of law to stop you. However, this is not the case when it comes to sobriety checkpoints, where officers can stop any driver and DUI charges may ensue.
Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Florida, as they are in most states. Drivers, therefore, have the obligation to stop and comply with instructions. Law enforcement officers who operate checkpoints also have to comply with certain legal requirements; if they fail to do so, a defense attorney can later challenge the stop and any evidence officers gather in its course.
Your obligations at a checkpoint
If an officer pulls you over at a checkpoint, you have to stop and provide your license, registration and insurance documents. Because of Florida’s implied consent law, you must also take a breath test if asked. Refusing can result in license suspension that can remain in place even if the original DUI charges are dismissed or you are found innocent. However, just as with a regular stop, you do not have to answer questions, agree to a field sobriety test or give consent to search your vehicle.
Drivers may also not purposely evade checkpoints. If officers see a driver turn around in front of a checkpoint, they often follow and pull that person over. Evading a checkpoint can give rise to additional charges.
Legal requirements for checkpoint operation
Officers operating checkpoints must follow guidelines to ensure they stop vehicles at random and not single out any specific type of driver or vehicle. For instance, they may stop every fourth vehicle. The guidelines must be in writing, and they must be in place before the checkpoint begins to operate. The authorities must also post the date and location of checkpoints in advance.
Fighting DUI charges
Many people become nervous when dealing with law enforcement. This often leads to drivers making mistakes, such as talking more than they should. In addition, even chemical tests can produce inaccurate results. It is always advisable to talk to an attorney about your case, as your situation may be better than you think.