Be careful, Halloween revelers! Holidays are a favorite time for local law enforcement to set up sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints stop traffic, usually with blue police lights flashing, at predetermined locations, ostensibly to detect drivers who are intoxicated. Law enforcement officers typically claim that the DUI checkpoints protect the community from drivers whose intoxication would render the roads unsafe for the rest of the general public. Partygoers in the Himmarshee district or other areas with large Halloween celebrations are likely to find themselves under increased law enforcement scrutiny and should plan accordingly. Other popular times for DUI roadblocks are New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, Labor Day, the Fourth of July, and around Christmas, according to Broward DUI attorney William R. Moore.
The realities of DUI checkpoints are, upon closer examination, more complicated. The politics of sobriety checkpoints are complicated, because while they are proclaimed as a first line of defense against driving under the influence of alcohol and/or other substances, they are also nearly always a tremendous moneymaking venture for these agencies. Often, law enforcement officers issue numerous citations for civil violations such as failure to use seat belts, expired car registration, driver’s licenses that have been expired only a very short period of time, no insurance, and the like.
The law requires that DUI roadblocks adhere to numerous rules in order to be compliant, so that the evidence can be admissible against a criminal defendant in court. For instance, if there is not a set method of determining which cars will be stopped (such as every other car or every fifth car), the evidence obtained will not be valid. Without neutral criteria for determining which cars to stop, officers’ biases or hunches could be the determining factor, notes Fort Lauderdale DUI Lawyer William R. Moore.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits certain types of searches, is the basis for restrictions on the way police conduct sobriety checkpoints. In the traditional traffic stop, police must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is breaking the law in order to pull him or her over. However, random roadblocks do not require individualized suspicion. Some scholars have argued that an examination of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination is also necessary, as field sobriety tests and breath test machines could produce incriminatory results that are used against a defendant in court. This is true even though Florida and other jurisdictions require by law through implied consent that a driver submit to breath alcohol testing when requested by law enforcement. Implied consent states that when a driver operates a motor vehicle, the driver is automatically consenting to these tests.
For more information about this type of case contact:
Driving and Defense Attorney William R. Moore (954) 523-5333