Florida DUI Roadblocks Explained

Sometimes Florida law enforcement agencies set up roadblocks as a tool to make it easier to catch drivers who are in violation of the state’s DUI laws. Although roadblocks can make DUI enforcement easier on the police, drivers have additional rights and protections that are particular to roadblocks. That is to say, if your DUI is the result of a roadblock, you may have additional defenses to your DUI charge if the roadblock was not conducted properly.

Roadblocks and the Fourth Amendment

In order to pass constitutional scrutiny, roadblocks carry their own set of rules and regulations. This is because a roadblock allows a police officer to stop a car without the necessary element of probable cause. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, police are generally prevented from engaging in illegal searches and seizures. However, properly conducted roadblocks are an exception to this rule. That is because the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the public protection afforded by roadblocks outweighs the infringement on people’s Fourth Amendment rights.

The Rules and Regulations of Roadblocks

In order to be valid and withstand a motion to suppress, a roadblock must comport with a strict set of guidelines established by the United States Supreme Court. First, a roadblock must be scheduled in advance and must occur at a time and place that has experienced an influx of DUI arrests or alcohol-related accidents. Second, the roadblock must be advertised in advance. Third, the roadblock must be clearly marked with signs and flashing lights. Finally, the law enforcement officers must establish ahead of time a system for stopping cars. In other words, cars must be systematically stopped rather than selected haphazardly or even intentionally. For example, law enforcement officers could decide ahead of time to stop every third car that passes through the roadblock checkpoint.

The failure of law enforcement officers to conduct a roadblock properly can form a defense to a DUI charge. That is to say that if the roadblock was not performed correctly, you may be able to argue that your arrest was illegal under the Fourth Amendment and ultimately have your DUI charge dismissed.