They seem to appear at regular intervals throughout the year much like spring flowers and autumn leaves. “They,” of course, refers to “DUI” or “sobriety” checkpoints. Fort Walton Beach law enforcement agencies as well as other law enforcement agencies regularly operate “DUI checkpoints” at certain times of the year, including around holidays. Even if you have not touched a drop of alcohol all night, having to go through a DUI checkpoint in order to get home can be a stressful experience. If you have had alcohol, you may be in a state of panic upon seeing signs warning you of an upcoming DUI checkpoint.
Even though DUI checkpoints are legal – that is, so long as the agency conducting the checkpoint follows certain legal requirements – that does not mean you are without rights when you are approaching and going through such a checkpoint. Learn what you can – and cannot – do at a Florida DUI checkpoint.
What You Can Do at a Florida DUI Checkpoint
Your actions at a DUI checkpoint can have serious ramifications in that you may be able to avoid DUI charges if you take appropriate actions. Conversely, making the wrong choices at a DUI checkpoint can lead to a DUI charge and potentially a DUI conviction. When approaching or stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you can:
Legally Drive Around the DUI Checkpoint.
One of the legal requirements that a DUI checkpoint must comply with requires the agency to post appropriate warning signs well in advance of the actual checkpoint. You are permitted to drive around the checkpoint or take an alternate route to get to your destination. Note, however, that at many checkpoints there is an officer stationed on a nearby road or vantage point who watches individuals that do not enter the checkpoint. This officer watches for drivers who violate traffic laws as they avoid the checkpoint. If you are seen committing a traffic infraction in avoiding a checkpoint (i.e., making an illegal U-turn), you can be pulled over by the officer.
Refuse to Answer the Officer’s Questions.
Officers will try to talk to drivers at DUI checkpoints, but not because they are trying to be friendly. Instead, officers are hoping you will engage with them in conversation so that they can detect if you have any alcohol on your breath. Sometimes too, officers receive a “gift” when a driver admits to having recently consumed alcohol. In either case, you can expect that officers will follow up with this information by conducting additional testing. While the DUI checkpoint itself may be legal, there is no law that compels you to speak with the officers.
Refuse to Consent to a Search of Your Vehicle.
Officers will routinely ask for consent to search your vehicle at a DUI checkpoint. They are hoping that the official nature of a checkpoint and the presence of multiple law enforcement officers will persuade drivers into thinking that they have no right to refuse their request to search the drivers’ cars. But drivers do have the right to refuse to consent to a search, and this right can be exercised at any DUI checkpoint. If you do refuse to consent to a search, law enforcement officers will not be able to search your car unless they have probable cause to believe you have committed or are committing a crime and evidence of this is to be found in your car.
Contact a Fort Walton Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer After Being Stopped at a Checkpoint
If you have been stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Okaloosa County and thereafter charged with DUI, you need the experienced assistance of Fort Walton Beach DUI defense attorney Stephen G. Cobb. Evidence officers obtained during their “investigation” at the checkpoint can be tossed out of court if the checkpoint was not conducted in accordance with legal requirements, or if your constitutional rights were violated at the checkpoint. Contact Criminal Trial Law Specialist Stephen G. Cobb, Fort Walton Beach criminal defense attorney, at (850) 669-5882 for help after being charged with DUI following a DUI checkpoint.
Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm
1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 101-B
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
For more information, please visit: https://cobblawfirm.com/dui/