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Can Florida police search your car at a DUI checkpoint?

You're driving along on a beautiful, summer evening in Florida, and as you look ahead on the road, you realize there's only one thing keeping you from getting home from the nightclub: a police roadblock. You're unsure of the reason for the stop, but begin to feel nervous even before you come in contact with the officers at the checkpoint. Since the actually stop is still three or four vehicles ahead of yours, you conduct a quick check to make sure you have your driver's license and proof of vehicle registration and insurance.

When you get to the front of the checkpoint traffic line, an officer approaches your driver's side window. You roll it down and are told police are conducting a brief sobriety check for all passing motorists. You recently read about such roadblocks; police often claim they help reduce the number of drunk driving accidents in the state by implementing DUI checkpoints, especially during holiday weekends and other occasions typically known for increased drunk driving incidents.

What are your rights at police checkpoints?

Researching drunk driving laws and personal rights protected under the U.S. Constitution can help you avoid problems at police roadblocks. Here are some crucial points to remember where DUI checkpoints are concerned:

  • Yes, you have to stop at a roadblock. In fact, police usually monitor traffic approaching their checkpoints, so be aware of this fact if ideas to evade the block enter your mind.
  • Officers often make basic requests at DUI checkpoints, such as asking you to show your driver's license or vehicle registration card.
  • If you're asked to step out of your car, or police request permission to search you or your vehicle, it's a game-changer. They may not conduct a search without probable cause and/or a valid search warrant.
  • The court often allows DUI checkpoint evidence in court; remember this if police arrest you at a roadblock.

Many people get arrested for DUI in Florida because of some type of misunderstanding. Such situations are often quickly rectified, and no permanent damage is done to personal reputations or futures. Other incidents don't produce the same results. In fact, some people lose their freedom for long periods of time and carry drunk driving convictions on their criminal records for the rest of their lives. You obviously don't want to be part of the latter group. 

One of the best ways to avoid DUI checkpoint problems is to abstain from alcohol if you plan to drive a motor vehicle. If police arrest you and charge you with drunk driving, and you believe they violated your personal rights, you can bring the situation to the immediate attention of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can challenge proffered evidence in such cases in court, which may lead to dismissal of charges.

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