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Checkmate: Sobriety checkpoints in Florida

You probably encountered more than one sobriety checkpoint since you got your driver's license. Usually, police use this technique for catching drunk drivers during holidays or after popular events.

You may be one of the many who feel the sobriety checkpoints walk the fine line of constitutionality, especially if police improperly handled your recent arrest at a checkpoint. However, states like Florida that utilize the checkpoints believe the potential to save lives outweighs the inconvenience the stops present to you and other drivers.

The purpose and pattern of a checkpoint

Law enforcement agencies don't usually keep their checkpoints secret. They often publicize the time and location of the checkpoints and set up signs and warnings some distance before you actually encounter police. They are looking for drivers who show signs of intoxication, but more importantly, they are hoping the checkpoints will stop you from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

To avoid accusations of impropriety, officers conducting checkpoints typically follow certain rules, including:

  • Stopping vehicles in a determined sequence, such as every fourth car, to avoid the appearance of racial profiling
  • Conducting sobriety tests only if there is evidence that you have been drinking
  • Minimizing the amount of time of each stop to the approximate length of a traffic light
  • Focusing on checkpoints as deterrents more than opportunities for arrests

The publicity a sobriety checkpoint receives is meant to remind you of the consequences of drinking and driving. Studies show the checkpoints are an effective way to save lives if police operate them correctly.

Heavy penalties for DUI in Florida

Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Florida. Law enforcement may establish one at any time, but they usually announce when and where the checkpoints will be. Despite the seeming randomness of each traffic stop, officers working the checkpoint are supposed to follow protocol for stopping vehicles and making arrests.

If police arrested you at a sobriety checkpoint, your future is on the line. You may be facing fines, incarceration and a life-changing blemish on your record if convicted. You may also lose your license for months or longer. To minimize the negative consequences of your arrest, the advice of an attorney will benefit you. Your attorney will examine the circumstances of your arrest, including the procedure police followed at the sobriety checkpoint and work to bring your situation to the most positive resolution possible.

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