If you're pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint, here's what you need to know
The consequence of being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol can last a lifetime. You can lose your job, be fined, do jail time, and have to navigate life with a criminal record weighing you down.
No one should argue that keeping drunk drivers off our roads and highways is important, but so is protecting your rights. In some states, DUI checkpoints are allowed and utilized by law enforcement officials to, in theory, catch people driving under the influence of alcohol. But do you understand what your rights are when you encounter a DUI checkpoint?
In Florida, police are allowed to run DUI checkpoints because they are generally considered to be legal and constitutional. While officers have to follow certain protocols, you could face arrest if you don't stop your vehicle and pull over when ordered to do so. Along with Florida, 37 other states and the District of Columbia allow sobriety checkpoints to be used in impaired driving enforcement efforts.
There is a lot at stake when you're charged with drunk driving, which is why if you're facing charges in Florida, you should talk to a DUI defense attorney about your legal rights and options as soon as possible.
What happens at a DUI checkpoint?
Law enforcement must legally follow certain rules when they are performing a DUI checkpoint, including:
- They must reasonably conduct the DUI checkpoint.
- They must stop drivers randomly and fairly.
Conducting a DUI checkpoint reasonably means police officers are not going out of their way to pull you over and that there may be other issues with a higher priority. If, for example, a DUI checkpoint starts a traffic jam, the checkpoint should be stopped to allow traffic to flow.
Police officers must also fairly and randomly pull drivers over to make sure that no driver is being wrongfully targeted. To do so, police officers may, for example, pull over every third car.
When pulled over for a DUI checkpoint, a police officer will typically ask you questions, but it's important to remember that you're not required to answer their questions. As long as you provide your license, registration, name, and address, you can invoke your Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between remaining silent and being non-compliant. Make sure to be courteous and respectful toward the officer so that you don't escalate the situation or get viewed as being hostile. If you decide to invoke your Fifth Amendment right, simply verbalize that to the officer. If the officer persists, remember that you already invoked your Fifth Amendment right and can remain silent.
Get help from a lawyer if you were accused of drinking and driving
DUI checkpoints were created to help keep our roads safer, but a lot of times, people's rights are violated. If you were charged and arrested at a sobriety checkpoint in Northeast Florida, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney to protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your best interests.
The legal team at Aguilar & Sieron, P.A., has years of experience handling complicated DUI cases in Clay County. We've been defending the rights of people in Northeast Florida since 1987, and we will fight for the best possible outcome of your case.
Don't delay. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Clay County DUI defense lawyer.