DUI checkpoints are a type of exception within the law. Normally, a police officer needs a reason to stop your vehicle and ask you questions that could potentially lead to your arrest. However, during a DUI checkpoint, all or certain vehicles are automatically stopped and the police can have a quick chat with you. They do not have to have any reason to believe you have committed a crime. Why the exception to the law? Public safety.

The U.S. Supreme Court has found that DUI checkpoints, when properly administered, can help get drunk drivers off the roads and are in the public’s best interest. While these stops are lawful, they are only OK when set up and administered by the police within certain parameters.

If you were arrested after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Florida, contact a Sarasota criminal defense attorney with Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900. Attorney Erika Valcarcel withErika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. can help you navigate the Sarasota criminal justice system.

Why the Police Announce Sarasota DUI Checkpoints

Prior to 1990, checkpoints across the U.S. were a surprise. The police did not announce when and where checkpoints would take place. However, following a U.S. Supreme Court case that year, it became law for police to provide the public notice of checkpoints before they take place. By providing notice of the potential stop, the public’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated.

In Florida, and every other state that allows checkpoints (some have found these stops unlawful based on their state constitutions), the police must announce to the public in some way when and where checkpoints will occur. Nowadays, notice is often provided online or to local news outlets that spread the word.

Other Rules Surrounding Checkpoints

An announcement is not the only law regarding how checkpoints can be administered. To conduct a lawful checkpoint, the police must:

  • Clearly mark the checkpoint and ensure you can see it from a distance
  • Have a specific standard for which vehicles can be stopped, such as every other car
  • Limit their questions to ensure a quick stop and minimal intrusion

To be clear, the police cannot stop any vehicle they want during a checkpoint. Randomly picking cars has been found to be unconstitutional because it easily leads to discrimination. Additionally, the police cannot simply give every driver a breathalyzer. They must have specific reasons for asking you to submit to a breath or field sobriety tests in Sarasota.

Do Yourself a Favor This Holiday Season: Do Not Drink and Drive

Sarasota is bound to have a few DUI checkpoint planned for this New Year’s Eve. Before you head out for the night, make a plan for where you will sleep and how to get there. Either have a designated driver in your group or rely on a taxi or an Uber. Bear in mind Uber may have higher rates during the early morning of January 1. It might not be a cheap ride.

If you or a friend end up having a few too many drinks to drive, you can call Tow to Go at 1-855-2-TOW-2-GO. If truck drivers are available, you can get a free ride and tow to a location within a 10-mile radius.

Call Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Erika Valcarcel If You Are Arrested for a DUI

The local and state police will be out in force over the New Year holiday weekend, and there is a zero tolerance policy for drunk driving. Unfortunately, the police may become overzealous in enforcing the law and arrest you if you show any small sign of having been drinking that night. If you are charged with a DUI, call an experienced Sarasota DUI lawyer from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. right away at (941) 363-7900. We will have you out of jail as soon as possible and begin to build your defense immediately.

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