While DUI checkpoints can be important safety measures, they also have the potential for violation of a person’s constitutional rights. Drivers have legal rights which are protected by both the Constitution and state laws. Learn more about how to protect these rights during interactions with law enforcement officers at DUI checkpoints.
The Do’s and Don’ts of a DUI Checkpoint Stop
As with any police interaction, it is important to be polite and non-confrontational when speaking with an officer. Police can ask for identification, and drivers should present it without delay. Drivers should also be sure to follow simple directions that ensure the safety of everyone on scene. This might include where to proceed through a checkpoint, keeping your hands on the steering wheel so the officer knows you aren’t grabbing anything unexpectedly, and notifying an officer if you are in possession of a weapon.
Being polite and non-confrontational does not, however, mean that you have to comply with every request, or answer every question that is posed to you. DUI suspects have constitutional protections against self-incrimination. This means that they do not have to answer when an officer asks if they have been drinking. There are also constitutional protections against search and seizure, which means that drivers do not have to consent to a search of their vehicle. In order to search a vehicle, law enforcement officers must first obtain a warrant by convincing a judge that a probable cause exists. Drivers should not consent to such searches unless presented with a valid warrant.
Drivers Have Already Given Consent for Alcohol Tests
While drivers are not required to consent to searches of their vehicles, they have already given legal consent to have their blood, breath, or urine tested for alcohol. This is because Florida, like every other state, has an implied consent law.
Section 316.1932 of the Florida Statutes states that any person who “accepts the privilege extended by the laws of this state of operating a motor vehicle” is deemed to have consented to an approved chemical or physical alcohol test. The test must be performed incident to a lawful arrest for suspected DUI, but once the driver has been arrested, there is no search warrant required for law enforcement to test his or her blood, breath, or urine. A refusal to submit to such tests results in an automatic one-year suspension of the suspect’s driving privileges. A second or subsequent refusal will cause the defendant to lose his or her driver’s license for eighteen months. Of course, drivers do have the right to refuse tests in order to prevent them from being forced to incriminate themselves for the crime of driving under the influence. But this choice comes with consequences that drivers must be made aware of. In addition to the driver’s license suspension, evidence of the refusal can be submitted to a jury. This can make it difficult to launch an effective defense at trial. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, you have important constitutional rights which must be protected.
Contact an experienced Jacksonville DUI attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you receive a speedy trial, due process, and all other procedural rights to which you are entitled.