DUI Roadblocks in Sarasota – Constitutional and DUI Defensible
A DUI roadblock, or sobriety checkpoint, is a tool often used by Florida law enforcement to stop, identify, and charge those driving under the influence. The tool itself allows law enforcement personnel to randomly stop drivers without any probable cause. This very idea may scream, “violation of my constitutional rights.” However, Sarasota DUI roadblocks are constitutional, provided that they adhere to certain guidelines. For an individual charged with a DUI stemming from a roadblock or checkpoint, this also means that your DUI is quite defensible in court.
DUI Roadblocks are Legal
The logic seems difficult to understand. It is true that DUI roadblocks are technically a “search and seizure.” It is also very true that DUI checkpoints allow law enforcement personnel to randomly stop drivers without any probable cause. And it’s true that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects us all from being searched without probable cause. So, aren’t DUI checkpoints unconstitutional?
The answer is no. The United States Supreme Court and the Florida State Supreme Court have both upheld the use of DUI roadblocks as constitutional. The United States Supreme Court did admit that these roadblocks do infringe on our Fourth Amendment rights. However, the Court ultimately decided that this infringement is slight and it is outweighed by the public interest in reducing drunk drivers. Thus, DUI roadblocks are here to stay and they are legal.
However, the use of these roadblocks is still placed under scrutiny because they are a technical violation of our rights. Because of this, states must adhere to specific guidelines when conducting DUI roadblocks. In its decision to uphold the legality of DUI roadblocks, the United States Supreme Court did not establish or identify the specific guidelines that states must follow. These guidelines are left up to the individual states to create, maintain, and follow.
DUI Roadblocks in Florida
To date, Florida Courts have decided that law enforcement personnel must adhere to specific written guidelines when conducting DUI checkpoints. Florida State also has in place similar guidelines that must be followed when roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints are used. A few of these guidelines include:
- Law enforcement personnel do not have the authority to set up “routine” roadblocks at any time or location
- Roadblocks are required to include advance planning, direction, and strict compliance with applicable directives
- Supervising deputies cannot adjust the written guidelines governing a roadblock while it’s being conducted
- Written guidelines for a roadblock must address the criteria to be considered by the roadblock supervisor with regards to the frequency of traffic stops
- DUI roadblocks cannot start before their scheduled start times.
Guidelines applicable to Sarasota DUI roadblocks are of enormous protection to us as citizens blanketed by the rights of our Constitution. They help ensure our rights are upheld in a fair manner. They are equally important, in the realm of DUI law, for they serve to protect those that are arrested or charged for a DUI at a particular roadblock or sobriety checkpoint. This protection includes the ability to build a solid defense for an individual arrested or charged with a DUI when specific roadblock or checkpoint guidelines were not followed.
Legal Defenses Applicable to the DUI Roadblock Setting
The guidelines applicable to a DUI checkpoint are quite valuable in terms of building a legal defense for an individual arrested or charged with a DUI after being stopped at a roadblock setting. Simply put, if it can be proven that law enforcement personnel did not follow specific guidelines, then this failure to adhere can often translate into the suppression of evidence or the dismissal of a DUI case. As an example, consider once again the guidelines above. If a roadblock begins before its scheduled time in the State of Florida, and you were arrested for DUI at this roadblock, then there may be grounds for suppressing any evidence gathered at the roadblock. This evidence could include the results of one’s blood alcohol or field sobriety test. The suppression of this evidence could ultimately mean the dismissal of your DUI case since prosecutors could likely not prove a case without such vital evidence.
The above is just one example of the multiple defenses that may be at your disposal if you have been arrested or charged with a DUI at a roadblock. If you believe you were treated improperly or unfairly at a sobriety checkpoint, you should seek legal advice from a Sarasota DUI attorney to find out what your options may include. We at Musca Law are here to help and support you. Our team of exceptional DUI attorneys has the skill and experience to provide you with nothing less than outstanding DUI representation. Don’t gamble with your freedom, future, or reputation. Contact us today.