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Are DUI Checkpoints Really Legal?

Written by:Julian Stroleny PortraitJulian Stroleny

First, a DUI checkpoint is basically a roadblock set up by police to catch persons that are driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance. Checkpoints are usually set up in areas that are popular at night and tend to have heavy nighttime activity. Police usually target areas where bars or clubs are prominent.

It’s not uncommon to question the legality of DUI checkpoints. Many have argued that DUI checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures and are unconstitutional. But, alas, the Supreme Court of the United States has found that DUI checkpoints are totally legal! But, not all states agree with this decision. Nevertheless, Florida does and has upheld that DUI checkpoints are legal.

Here’s why! DUI checkpoints provide a necessary protection to the people. Because drunk driving is extremely dangerous and places other drivers at great risk, the state has an interest in conducting DUI checkpoints and preventing drunk driving accidents from occurring. So, although DUI checkpoints do interfere somewhat with a person’s basic right to privacy, the overall good that DUI checkpoints provide outweighs that infringement on privacy. Basically, because DUI checkpoints effectively help to stop drunk driving that’s enough to make them legal!

But some states have placed rules or conditions on DUI checkpoints so that police officers do not abuse their power. Florida, in particular, has a three-minute rule, which prevents drivers from being stopped for more than three minutes or else police officers must then start systematically selecting vehicles for search instead of having all vehicles searched. Also, police must publicize checkpoints before they occur.

In case you ever get caught in a DUI checkpoint, you do have the right to refuse a sobriety test and ask for an attorney. If you refuse a sobriety test, you will likely get arrested, but you will have the opportunity to get legal advice on how to proceed – which could help you in the long run!


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