DUI checkpoints have been a controversial topic recently, as many argue they are in violation of the Fourth Amendment's "right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures." To be considered lawful, the public must be informed of the checkpoint and warnings must be posted on the road prior to the checkpoint. When a police department is going to establish a DUI checkpoint, they must outline the manner in which the checkpoint will be administered and the reasons for the checkpoint.
Checkpoints are not always carried out in the intended manner, however. In those cases, individuals charged with driving under the influence may be able to use the improper checkpoint as a defense. Such was the case with a DUI checkpoint established in Florida in December.
Police at the checkpoint were authorized to stop every third car. Based on video taken by the police car, they stopped many more vehicles than the protocol allowed. In total, over one thousand motor vehicles were stopped at the checkpoint. During the course of the night, 61 people were charged with various offenses, including six who were charged with drunk driving.
Now that the checkpoint failures have been revealed, even those who have already pleaded to the charges may be able to have them dismissed. For instance, one individual who was charged with both possession of marijuana and DUI and pleaded no contest has since had the charges dismissed.
For those who face charges, such as driving under the influence, from a traffic stop at a DUI checkpoint, an experienced defense attorney can examine the case to ensure the DUI checkpoint was administered properly.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Technicality may void Pasco DUI checkpoint arrests," Erin Sullivan, September 9, 2012.
Our firm handles situations in which individuals are charged with driving under the influence. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Tampa drunk driving defense page.