Sobriety checkpoints, known as “mobile checkpoints” or “DUI checkpoints,” are police traffic stops often set up at congested areas and during busy times. The purpose is to catch motorists who are drunk driving and protect the public by keeping intoxicated drivers off the roads.
During a sobriety checkpoint, motorists are briefly detained and interviewed. Suspicious drivers are subject to sobriety tests. The locations for these checkpoints are temporary and selected at random.
However, checkpoints are illegal in 12 of the 50 states in the country because they are said to challenge the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens, which protects them from unlawful search and seizure. Alas, the Sunshine State is not one of them, which means DUI checkpoints are legal in Florida.
So if you are stopped at a Florida DUI checkpoint, you will be asked to show your identification. If you are asked to perform a preliminary breathalyzer test or field sobriety test, you are able to refuse and request the assistance of a lawyer. While there is no penalty for refusing, your refusal will often lead to your arrest.
Additionally, “no refusal” checkpoints are legal in some areas. If a motorist refuses to take a breathalyzer test after being stopped, law enforcement is permitted to immediately take a blood sample. This is possible since a judge is stationed with the officers and can issue a warrant for a blood test right on the spot.
Keep in mind, Florida law does not allow the police to just set up a checkpoint at any time—whenever and wherever they want. The police have to plan their sobriety checkpoints and follow certain rules for a checkpoint to be legal. For example, law enforcement needs to obtain approval in advance, they must establish specific written rules for the checkpoint, the checkpoint can only last for a specific period of time, and they must adhere to all of those rules during the checkpoint.
Police are not allowed to only rely on their discretion to pick and choose which drivers they are going to stop. They are required to stop drivers based on a predetermined plan. For instance, law enforcement can choose to stop every fifth vehicle, but they can’t use some arbitrary rule to stop drivers as they please.
In summary, if police establish proper rules and follow them, they are permitted to set up sobriety checkpoints and stop motorists as they come through to determine whether or not they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These checkpoints are typically known in advance through local news, newspapers, and news websites. You can also call the police department to determine where they are.