You have rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments that protect you from many of the DUI checkpoint processes, thus, you should be able to engage these rights if pulled over by police. The argument seems simple enough, but will it really stand up in the midst of a real DUI checkpoint? While a South Florida lawyer recently put this argument successfully to the test, it should not be taken as a foolproof tactic for all drivers to use.
Viral Video Calls DUI Stops into Question
When Warren R., a local attorney, got in his vehicle, he had one intention in mind: find a DUI checkpoint. He was prepared for this stop, with a pre-printed flier that stated he was enacting his right to remain silent, his right to have a lawyer present, his right to decline a search, and his right to keep his window rolled up. When police tapped on his window, he pressed the flier, along with his license and proof of insurance.
While it took them a few minutes to figure out if he was allowed to do this, the law enforcement officers eventually waved him on through the checkpoint-without giving him any trouble. Was this legal for Warren R. to do? Was he still within his rights, even though he was at a checkpoint? Does this mean that every checkpoint is in blatant violation of a driver's rights? The issue has been debated and disputed for years, yet a majority of states still consider these stops legal, so long as they abide by certain laws.
For example, all stops in Florida must follow these rules:
- Public announcement of the location beforehand
- Limiting the overall size of the operation
- Not profiling the cars or drivers for selection
Many individuals—police and other attorneys included—are not convinced that Warren's actions were completely legal. While he believes checkpoints are fundamentally un-American, there have been numerous appellate cases that served to re-enforce that drivers do not have the right to be non-compliant at a traffic stop or DUI checkpoint. Furthermore, this can often make officers frustrated—leading to contentious matters.
"We've all seen viral videos lately of police stops going horribly wrong," Attorney Blecher was quoted in an interview with the Miami New Times. "I think the climate out there today is one of being particularly cautious." He further commented, "I would never antagonize a man with a gun." Maybe the best take away is to remember that safety should be every driver's first priority, not testing law enforcement's patience.
Though DUI checkpoints may operate slightly out of legal boundaries, they have been specifically given wide leeway by the courts and states, further solidifying their justification. The more a driver complies, the smoother their stop will likely go. However, if you are arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, don't give up hope! A seasoned Miami DUI lawyer is just a phone call away. Call our firm today to request your free consultation.