Every now and then, a driver in Jacksonville, Florida and other areas of Florida will come across a DUI roadblock and get stopped by the police who are randomly looking for people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We all should know that normally the police cannot stop a person in his/her vehicle (or otherwise) without specific facts indicating he/she is committing a crime or traffic violation. If a DUI roadblock randomly stops people without any prior facts indicating a crime or traffic violation, how can this be legal in Florida?
The highest court in Florida decided that DUI roadblocks are legal if they meet certain criteria. The main criteria of a proper DUI roadblock is that the police must establish a written plan in advance detailing how the DUI roadblock will operate and when and how vehicles will be stopped. This plan must take as much discretion away from the police officers as possible regarding the decision as to who will be stopped. In other words, if the police officers at a DUI roadblock are allowed to decide at the scene who gets stopped based on their own subjective observations or the police officers develop their own plan for stopping vehicles at the DUI roadblock, this is not a legal DUI roadblock. The police officers are required to plan in advance how the vehicles will be stopped that does not leave the decision up to the discretion of the police officers. If the plan dictated that the police officers can stop every vehicle or every 5th vehicle, that would be legal. But if the police officers were permitted to stop every vehicle that looked a certain way or every vehicle with a certain kind of driver, that DUI roadblock would likely be considered illegal. If the DUI roadblock is considered illegal, the DUI charge should be thrown out of court.
Other factors relating to a valid DUI roadblock are whether the DUI roadblock is well marked and warning signs are provided so it is as safe as possible for motorists. The police officers must also be in uniform and easily identifiable as police officers. While police officers are permitted to stop drivers at a valid DUI roadblock, that stop must be as brief as necessary to investigate DUI’s, and the encounter with the driver must not be more intrusive than necessary.
If you have been stopped at a DUI roadblock and arrested for DUI or any other charge in Jacksonville, Florida or the North Florida area, feel free to contact us for a free consultation to determine if the DUI roadblock and/or your arrest was legal.