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Without reasonable suspicion, how can a DUI checkpoint be legal?

Law enforcement agencies throughout Florida use many different tactics to enforce DUI law. On holidays and throughout the year, routine patrols, saturation patrols (commonly called Wolf Pack operations) and DUI checkpoints frequently focus on drunk driving enforcement.

Most people understand that police cannot pull over a driver for no apparent reason. Officers need to be able to state an identifiable reason to conduct a traffic stop. Any minor violation may justify a stop. However, police use roadblocks to search for signs of drunk driving without any prior individualized reasonable suspicion. Is stopping a car at a DUI checkpoint legal in Florida?

The answer to that question depends on a thorough analysis of how the checkpoint operation is conducted. Both the United States Supreme Court and Florida's highest court have decided that DUI checkpoints can pass constitutional muster if they are conducted fairly.

Not all states agree. A dozen states prohibit sobriety checkpoints for policy reasons or under their own constitutional interpretations. Although checkpoints are generally allowable in Florida, police must follow rules in creating and conducting the operation to provide drivers with adequate protection against unlawful search and seizure.

Do not assume that police acted properly in running a sobriety checkpoint

Florida courts and DUI defense lawyers analyze a variety of factors to determine the reasonableness and fairness of a roadblock operation. A stop, whether as a routine traffic stop or in a roadblock operation is a seizure for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment.

While the rules for checkpoints are in place to minimize discretion of police and help to ensure that the roadblocks do not become unreasonable intrusions into the lives of motorists, members of law enforcement do make mistakes. It is important to work with a skilled lawyer who knows how to analyze the details to ensure that your rights are protected.

Being arrested for DUI can have a long-lasting adverse impact on your life. But, if a DUI roadblock was conducted illegally you, should not have to suffer harsh consequences stemming from a violation of your rights. An experienced DUI defense attorney can meticulously review every detail to protect your rights.

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