What Are My Rights at a DUI Checkpoint in Miami?

By November 13, 2015DUI Defense

By: DUI Lawyer in Miami Albert Quirantes


DUI Checkpoints. Also known as DUI Roadblocks.  It seems like you can find them anywhere if you’re driving late at night on a holiday weekend in Miami, Miami Beach, South Miami, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, or Key West. The Miami causeways seem to be an especially popular spot for them.

But what are your rights if you’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint?  You’ve done nothing wrong. The police don’t have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe you’ve done anything illegal. Here are some tips on how to avoid giving either to them.

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Keep your hands visible at all time and remain calm.  Put into a Ziploc bag, which you can hang from a window, the following items: (1) your driver’s license, (2) insurance information, (3) vehicle registration, and (4) a card saying you invoke your right to remain silent, you do not consent to a search, and you want your lawyer.

Why?  This approach makes it clear that you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and your Sixth Amendment right to have a lawyer present for questioning.  It also helps keep you from making any spontaneous statements or admissions.  And what if they arrest you on the spot?  Then they’re playing with a false arrest – which means that, not only could your charge be thrown out, but you could also be entitled to an award of damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.  And that cop is possibly facing a, “firing” squad back at work.

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That’s why you should go with the “documents-in-the-bag approach”, which should be reasonable compliance with the information that the police officers are entitled to – without having you roll down your window so that the cop can say he smelled alcohol and then ask you to take field sobriety tests.  (I’ve told you before why you should refuse to take field sobriety tests, which are inaccurate and designed to fail.)

Indeed, this approach has led to a flurry of  YouTube videos by people stopped at DUI checkpoints and coverage by the Washington Post, USA Today, and NBC Miami.

And what if you’re arrested at a DUI checkpoint in south Florida?  Don’t even think of pleading guilty until you’ve spoken to an experienced Miami DUI defense lawyer.  An experienced DUI lawyer knows that stops made at these checkpoints—whether they call it a DUI, sobriety, DUI Roadblock or driver’s license checkpoint—are strictly scrutinized.  If the police did not follow the operational plan for the checkpoint, then a good lawyer should be able to get your charges dismissed.  Does that sound far-fetched?  It happened in Pasco County in December 2011.

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This is where experience counts.  An aggressive DUI defense attorney who’s been defending clients for decades will get the checkpoint guidelines and figure out critical information to fight the checkpoint arrest, such as:

  • how many people were actually stopped;
  • if there was an impermissible delay caused by the checkpoint that, under the plan, means the police should’ve let more vehicles pass until the delay was eliminated;
  • whether the police actually followed their plan – say, if they pulled over every third car or instead started pulling vehicles at random or by racial profiling; and
  • how many total arrests happened that night.

What if the checkpoint plan gave too much leeway to the police officers about which vehicles they could stop, or the plan was not strictly complied with?   That can require an absolute dismissal of those charges – even if you were on probation for another offense.  But you’ll never get that dismissal if you roll over, just plead guilty, and pay the fine.  You’ve got to fight for it.

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Make sure you have a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer.  A good DUI lawyer knows about the Florida Highway Patrol Policy Manual’s chapters on Driver License and Vehicle Safety Checkpoints and on Comprehensive Roadside Safety Checkpoints.  An experienced Miami DUI lawyer knows all about the defenses to a DUI charge in south Florida.  The best ones know how to bring all that knowledge to bear to fight for your rights.

Even if it ends up at trial – especially if your DUI charge goes to trial.  That’s where an aggressive, experienced DUI lawyer knows which witnesses to call.  Not just a passenger, but the officer who made the stop.  The officer who made the arrest.  The supervisor who wrote out the checkpoint plan that the police officers were required to follow.  If they deviated from the plan, your DUI defense attorney should find it – protecting your license, your job, your freedom, and your good name.

A lawyer with decades of experience and the willingness to fight for your rights will remember that it’s not just the DUI charge that could be dismissed if it arose out of an illegal or unconstitutional DUI checkpoint.  Was there an arrest for possession of marijuana or another drug possession arrest?  Driving while your license was suspended?  Possession of a firearm?  Even a seat belt violation could be dismissed if it resulted from the illegal DUI checkpoint.

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If you’ve been arrested for DUI, look at the “4 Things You Must Remember If You’ve Been Arrested for DUI in Miami.”   And remember that you only have ten days to act to save your license!  That’s why you should never take your chances by going it alone.  If you think a lawyer’s too expensive, I want you to leave you with these two thoughts.

First, even experienced DUI defense attorneys often offer a pfree consultation and payment plan for your budget.  I do, and I’ve been proudly helping individuals and families with loved ones accused of DUI since the 1980s.

Second, if you think getting experienced, aggressive representation is expensive, ask yourself this.  How expensive will it be if you have to pay the enormous penalties facing you, such as jail, license suspension, fines, job loss, and a permanent record of a DUI conviction?  You and your family should never have to find out.  So, you owe it to yourself and to your family to try to get your DUI case reduced or dropped.  Don’t take chances going to court alone.  Your Miami DUI attorney is here to help you in this time of crisis.  Get on the phone and call us now.

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Increase your knowledge! If you want to know more about how to resolve the problems you face when charged with a DUI, criminal offense, or traffic ticket in Florida, then you can follow Albert M. Quirantes – Ticket Law Center, A Criminal & DUI Defense Law Firm on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

If you have any questions about this or any other criminal or criminal traffic manner, contact Albert Quirantes, Miami DUI Lawyer at: 305-644-1800 or visit our website, www.DUIfirm.com, where you may click to text us or get directions to our office.

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