Your Rights at DUI Checkpoints in Florida - Aaron Delgado & Associates

Your Rights at DUI Checkpoints in Florida

by Aaron Delgado
07/01/15 (Updated: 01/17/20)

For a more in-depth breakdown of the issues surrounding Florida DUI checkpoint laws, read our more recent article by DUI lawyer Aaron Delgado: Everything You Need to Know About DUI Checkpoints.

Every day, people throughout Volusia County are arrested for suspected drunk driving. In fact, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reported that there were 32,177 DUI arrests in 2018 alone. Some of these motorists, like others who have been charged with drunk driving, may have been taken into custody after being stopped at DUI checkpoints.

To avoid incriminating yourself, and to avoid the potential penalties of a DUI conviction, it is important to understand your rights at Florida checkpoints.

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90%
Out of 325 DUI cases, 292 (90%) were reduced from a DUI to a less serious offense or had their charges dismissed!

Yes. While DUI checkpoints are not legal in every state, they are legal in Florida.

Answering Questions at Florida Checkpoints

If you’ve been stopped at a DUI checkpoint, it is common for the law enforcement officers running the stop to approach you and ask some questions. Officers will often use your answers and behavior, combined with their observations and other information gleaned during such questioning as probable cause to investigate further.

Many motorists speak with the authorities at DUI checkpoints because they believe they have to or they feel obligated to. However, drivers are generally under no legal obligation to respond to questioning at DUI checkpoints.

Many news sources have reported that some drivers are keeping their windows rolled up at DUI checkpoints and refusing to talk to officers. Instead, people have choosen to show them, or present them with, a card or flyer that indicates they wish to invoke their constitutional rights. This includes the right not to speak with law enforcement officers until after they have consulted with an attorney, and being allowed to leave if they are not being charged. However, we recommend a less bold strategy.

Performing Field Sobriety Tests

If after speaking with you (the driver), the authorities believe that you may be under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you to perform field sobriety exercises (FSEs).

Law enforcement officers often neglect to inform people of their right to refuse to perform FSEs when they are making requests. While motorists generally have the right to decline to participate in FSEs, doing so could work in their favor if they have not consumed any alcohol. However, there is no guarantee that you will do well with field sobriety exercises even if you are sober; many people cannot perform these exercises under ideal conditions, much less roadside while facing imminent arrest.

Consenting (and Not Consenting) to Chemical Testing

If they find probable cause, the authorities may ask you to submit to chemical testing, including breath and/or blood alcohol tests. Once you are placed under arrest, you may refuse such tests—however, doing so carries penalties. Under Florida’s implied consent law, people automatically consent to chemical testing when they drive anywhere in the state.

Consequences of Refusing a Breath Test

Refusing a Breathalyzer test is a misdemeanor offense for anyone who has a previous refusal on their record. According to Florida state law, drivers are subject to:

  • 12-month driver’s license suspension for a first-time refusal
  • 18-month driver’s license suspension for a previous refusal

The full penalties that this offense carries are typically imposed in addition to those of a DUI conviction.

Being charged with a DUI in the state of Florida can lead to severe penalties with potentially long-term implications, especially for pilots and certain other professionals. If you or a loved one have been arrested for driving under the influence, you may benefit from working with an experienced DUI lawyer. We will explain your legal options and help you build a solid defense, which may include questioning whether your rights were upheld during a DUI checkpoint. Call us today at 386-222-6677 to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled DUI lawyers.

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