A DUI checkpoint put in place on Friday night nabbed almost two dozen arrests in Clearwater, per the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Per the Tampa Bay Times website, 385 cars were diverted along U.S. 19 at the checkpoint. Ironically, out of the almost two dozen arrests, only one was for DUI , the other arrests were ranging from traffic citations to drug possession.
As a criminal defense attorney, I often get asked questions about the law and specific situations. One series of questions that always seems to come up include checkpoints and their legality. The two main questions I get are as follows:”Are checkpoints legal” and “Can I only get busted for a DUI”?
As to the first question, “Are checkpoints legal”?, the answer is a resounding “maybe”! The Supreme Court has ruled that checkpoints ARE constitutional if they follow certain rules. Most importantely, the cars in a checkpoint cannot be picked to be inspected at random. There needs to be a system in place to ensure that the vehicles at a checkpoint are pulled over in a process. For example, the police can pull over every 3rd car or every 17th vehicle at the checkpoint. The police can also pull over a car if the driver or driving pattern looks suspicious (for example, if a car is weaving at the checkpoint, the vehicle can be pulled over). The police CANNOT pull over a vehicle because of the driver’s race, sex or physical appearance.
The second common question I receive, “Can the police at a checkpoint only arrest you for a DUI if you get arrested at a checkpoint” is much easier to answer. That is a resounding “NO”! If the police follow proper protocol in forming a DUI checkpoint, then any other contraband the police find can be used against you. The Clearwater DUI checkpoint in the story above demonstrates that. Out of the nearly two dozen arrests, all but one was for other criminal acts. The police also made arrests for illegal drugs, traffic violations and outstanding warrants.
If you or a family member has been charged with a DUI or a traffic offense, Blake & Dorsten, P.A. is on your side. Former State Prosecutors Nicholas J. Dorsten and Rex R. Blake, Esq. have successfully handled high-profile DUI cases as both a prosecutor and now in private practice.
To speak directly with experienced criminal defense attorneys , please call 727.286.6141. We handle all criminal matters throughout the Tampa Bay area including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Gulfport, Bradenton, Treasure Island and Kenneth City.