In the state of Florida, it is a common practice for law enforcement to set up sobriety checkpoints. A sobriety checkpoint is essentially an area on the road where cars are stopped and where law enforcement does an assessment to determine if the drivers are driving under the influence of alcohol. Sobriety checkpoints are often set up on holidays, including Labor Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July, and they do not have to be disclosed in advance.
While Constitutional issues have been raised in the past regarding sobriety checkpoints, the general rule is that law enforcement can set up these checkpoints and use the evidence against you. There are always exceptions to this rule, however, and you need to contact a Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer if you have been arrested as a result of evidence collected at a DUI sobriety checkpoint. At The Ansara Law Firm, we will help you to understand your legal rights and the options available to you.The Constitutionality of Sobriety Checkpoints
The Fourth Amendment to the United States constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures and ensures police cannot search you without probable cause. Yet, while stopping you at a DUI checkpoint is objectively a seizure, the Supreme Court ruled that checkpoints are allowed because the constitutional violation must be weighed against the greater need to protect the public from dangerous drunk drivers.
Although the Supreme Court allowed DUI checkpoints, they are not necessarily OK in all cases. The police need to have a designated policy regarding pulling over vehicles. They cannot act in an arbitrary and capricious way in deciding whom to pull over, and there must be some uniform procedure in place when operating the checkpoint. If police do not conduct the checkpoint in a fair and just manner, then evidence collected against you as a result of being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint may be suppressed.
It is the burden of the prosecutor assigned to your case to prove that you are guilty of a DUI. If evidence collected against you is suppressed because of an illegal violation of your constitutional rights, the prosecutor may be unable to meet his or her burden. This means that the charges against you could potentially be dropped or, if the case does go to trial, you might be found innocent. This would allow you to avoid jail time, fines and a criminal record associated with a Fort Lauderdale DUI.
To keep evidence out based on a violation of your rights at a sobriety checkpoint, you are going to have the burden of demonstrating that law enforcements' actions crossed a line into constitutionally impermissible behavior. You should have an experienced Boward County DUI attorney assisting you in doing this if you want to be successful at making your case.
If you have been charged with DUI in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011! You can also contact us online. It only takes a minute to call, but it can make all the difference in the world.