DUI Sobriety Checkpoints
Many people are surprised to learn that local law enforcement agencies, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Tampa Police Department, have largely abandoned DUI sobriety checkpoints in favor of “saturation patrols.”
Checkpoints are the most scrutinized types of stops under the Fourth Amendment. Experienced attorneys successfully file “Motions to Suppress” evidence that often results in the dismissal of the case.
In a DUI checkpoint stop in Florida, any mistake by law enforcement might lead to the court granting the motion to suppress all evidence gathered as a result of your DUI arrest which may result in all DUI charges against you being dropped or dismissed.
The fact that DUI checkpoint cases are “heavily scrutinized” under the Fourth Amendment also means these cases are time-consuming and difficult for the prosecutor. Once your attorney files a motion to suppress, the prosecutor has the burden of showing that the checkpoint was constitutional.
Often the prosecutor must disclose the “Checkpoint Plan,” additional information about whether the roadblock was effective, testimony from any supervisor that made arraignments for the checkpoint, as well as any officers in the field that came in contact with the person arrested.
We file motions to suppress in Florida checkpoint or roadblock cases in which the driver was arrested for any of the following offenses:
- Driving on a suspended, revoked or expired driver’s license;
- Drunk Driving or Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI);
- Possession of drugs including marijuana;
- Possession of a concealed firearm or other weapon crimes;
- Traffic ticket citations for any variety of offenses including failure to wear a seatbelt.
If the motion to suppress is granted, then the court can order that the prosecution is not allowed to use the evidence at trial including the drugs, firearm, or even the identity of the driver which can result in the charges being dismissed.
Winning the motion to suppress almost always means that all charges will be dismissed.
Attorneys for DUI Sobriety Checkpoints in Tampa, FL
If your DUI arrest occurred after you were stopped in a DUI checkpoint in Hillsborough County or one of the surrounding counties in the Tampa Bay area, then contact a criminal defense lawyer at Sammis Law Firm, P.A., to discuss special defenses in roadblock or checkpoint case.
Our criminal defense attorneys also help clients stopped in a “saturation patrol” event using a BAT mobile or mobile breath testing vehicle.
Our DUI defense attorneys in Tampa, FL, file and litigate motions to suppress evidence obtained during an illegal or unconstitutional DUI roadblock. Let us tell you how we can defend you while we fight the case for the best result.
Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.
After a stop at a DUI checkpoint in Hillsborough County or the surrounding areas, contact us to discuss the case. Our offices are conveniently located in Tampa, FL, in Hillsborough County, and in New Port Richey in Pasco County.
HCSO’s Saturation Saturdays for DUI Enforcement in Hillsborough County, FL
In a recent news release, the HCSO Public Affairs Office announced the new “Saturation Saturdays” that began on August 24, 2019. For the most recent Saturation Saturday Patrol, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office partnered with other local law enforcement agencies in a statewide effort to combat impaired driving.
According to the press release, “Saturation Saturday” includes DUI patrols and other enforcement aimed at preventing impaired driving and catching those who make the wrong choice.
For the event on August 24, 2019, HCSO used the BAT mobile, mobile breath testing vehicle, at the University of South Florida at Fletcher Ave and USF Maple. The event began on August 24, 2019, around 8 p.m., and was scheduled to run through the night.
The first Saturation Saturday fell in the middle of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign helps fund increased drunk driving enforcement and advertising from August 24th through Labor Day.
Recent Florida DUI Checkpoint Case Law Update
The second district court of appeals recently reaffirmed the strict roadblock requirements in Guy v. State, 993 So.2d 77 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008). In this case, the Second Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s convictions. The defendant, in that case, was stopped during a Florida DUI roadblock or DUI checkpoint.
The driver was already on probation in Florida for Felony DUI, and he was driving with a suspended driver license as a Habitual Traffic Offender. The Florida man was charged with violation of probation and the new offense of felony driving while license suspended. After the trial court had denied his motion to suppress, the Florida man entered a plea but reserved his right to appeal his case to a higher court.
The Florida Second District Court of Appeals sided with the Florida man finding that inadequate written DUI checkpoint guidelines existed in the case because they gave too much discretion to field officers to determine which vehicles to stop.
The Florida Appellate Court also found that even the flawed and inadequate guidelines were not closely followed by the law enforcement officers, resulting in the need to suppress all evidence that flowed from the illegal arrest under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
DUI Checkpoint Guidelines in Florida
A DUI lawyer with experience in fighting checkpoint cases can compel the state to disclose the written checkpoint guidelines, all documents that support the guidelines, and cross-examine the various officers to determine the extent to which the guidelines were followed. Your attorney can then file and litigate the motion to suppress evidence gathered as a result of the Florida DUI roadblock or checkpoint.
If successful, the trial court could dismiss all charges against you that flowed from the illegal DUI roadblock stop. Additionally, just the fact that a motion to suppress is filed might cause the prosecutor to negotiate a more favorable sentence to reduced charges.
If you were arrested for DUI in Tampa, New Port Richey or Dade City, after being stopped in a DUI roadblock, call today to speak with an attorney experienced in handling DUI roadblock cases throughout the State of Florida.
Don’t enter a plea to DUI until your attorney has investigated all of the facts related to your particular case and a clear understanding of the law and facts surrounding your particular DUI roadblock case.
Arrested for a DUI Checkpoint in Hillsborough County, Florida?
Law enforcement agencies in Hillsborough County, Florida make up a DUI task force called “Operation 3D.” Operation 3D attentively investigates DUI cases using the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Plant City Police Department, City of Tampa Police Department, University of South Florida (USF) Police Department, and the Florida Highway Patrol.
Operation 3D publishes information in advance the locations and times that it plans to conduct DUI Roadblocks or DUI checkpoints in Hillsborough County. For instance, Operation 3D intends to increase DUI checkpoints and DUI roadblocks through December 31, 2014, to discourage drunk driving during the holiday season.
Click here to see a list of upcoming DUI roadblocks and DUI checkpoints in the Tampa Bay area of Hillsborough County. Over the years, checkpoints and saturation patrols have been scheduled for Tampa, Plant City, Apollo Beach, Brandon, Dover, Lithia, Northdale, Riverview,Seffner,Sun City Center, Sydney, Gibsonton, Mango, Temple Terrace, Odessa, Lutz, Carrollwood, Ruskin, Thonotosassa, Sun City, Valrico, Bearss Plaza, Wimauma, Durant, Balm, and Ybor City.
Arrested for a DUI Checkpoint in Pinellas County, Florida?
Deputies with the Pinellas County operate a DUI checkpoint about every two months. A recent DUI checkpoint in Pinellas County resulted in 17 arrests on 25 charges, including ten (10) arrests for drunk driving.
Other charges included refusal to submit to a breath test after a DUI arrest, two charges of driving while license suspended, and two charges for “no valid” driver license. Additionally, officers also made an arrest for each of the following offenses:
- possession of cocaine;
- possession of oxycodone;
- possession of hydrocodone;
- carrying a concealed weapon;
- disorderly intoxication, and
- unauthorized possession of identification card.
Deputies also impounded 11 vehicles and issued 33 traffic citations.
Over the past twelve years, members of Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) in Tampa Bay accompany the law enforcement officers of every agency in Pinellas County during every DUI checkpoint or roadblock.
Fighting Traffic Infractions from a DUI Sobriety Checkpoint in Florida
If you were stopped at a roadblock or checkpoint and received a traffic infraction citation, you can fight that citation based on a showing that the roadblock or checkpoint was illegal. The most commonly issued traffic citations issued during a DUI sobriety checkpoint include the failure to exhibit vehicle registration, a driver’s license, or proof of insurance. Officers can also issue traffic infraction for equipment violations.
When the vehicle is stopped, a seizure occurs. If the seizure cannot be constitutionally justified, then the fruits of the unlawful seizure, including any civil traffic infraction, may be subject to dismissal or suppression because of that constitutional challenge.
New Year’s Eve Checkpoints in Tampa, FL
Will DUI sobriety checkpoints be scheduled for New Year’s Eve 2021 in the greater Tampa Bay area. If you become aware of a DUI sobriety checkpoint being scheduled in Tampa, FL, or the surrounding areas, then please let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
On New Year’s Eve in 2019, several local law enforcement agencies, including the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting “saturation” patrols, meaning that extra officers will be on duty conducting traffic stops. Officers with the Florida Highway Patrol and the Plant City Police Department often join the efforts. Many saturation patrols use the B.A.T. (breath alcohol testing) mobile unit.
New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous days of the year in Hillsborough County, FL, for fatalities on the roadway. For this reason, more officers are on patrol and making stops for suspected DUI offenses. Saturation patrols have largely replaced DUI checkpoints for New Year’s Eve in the Tampa Bay Area.
Nevertheless, you should avoid beginning the new year with a DUI. This holiday season – don’t drink and drive. Instead, use a designated driver or a ride share service such as Uber or Lyft.
Examples of Sobriety Checkpoints in 2018
Several sobriety checkpoints have occurred so far in 2018. For example, the Tampa Police Department DUI unit conducted a three-hour safety checkpoint in Seminole Heights on Friday, May 4, 2018, at 10 p.m. until Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 1 a.m. According to the press release from Janelle McGregor, TPD Spokesperson, the officers with the Tampa Police Department were stationed near East Sligh Avenue and North Branch Avenue, in Tampa, FL.
Another checkpoint was conducted on February 9, 2018, at the same location. The DUI checkpoints conducted by the Tampa Police Department (TPD) are part of the Florida Department of Transportation grant that will use $191,000 of taxpayer funds.
Recent Checkpoints in Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL
DUI Checkpoint in Tampa – Read more about a recent DUI sobriety checkpoint hosted by the Tampa Police Department on May 22, 2016, at 2002 N. 17th Street. Find out why the checkpoint was unconstitutional. Although the operational plan required the officers to only stop every 5th car, for some reason not allowed by the plan, the officers on the scene decided to start stopping every 3rd car, then every car, then back to every 3rd car before terminating the checkpoint early. Instead of stopping 20% of the vehicles, the officers stopped 48%. The State Attorney’s Office dropped the DUI charge against our client stopped in this checkpoint without even bothering to have a hearing in front of the judge. The Bureau of Administrative Reviews also invalidated the suspension after a hearing in which several Tampa Police Department Officers testified.
DUI Checkpoint at USF – We recently represented the only person arrested at the 2/27/16 checkpoint at 50th Street near the USF Catholic Student Center. That case was dismissed on 7/12/16 after we filed a motion showing the checkpoint was unconstitutional because of major flaws in the operational plan and because the plan was not followed in the field.
Finding a Lawyer Drunk Driving Checkpoints in Florida
Similar DUI roadblock and DUI checkpoint programs exist throughout Florida, including in Pasco County or Pinellas County. If your vehicle was stopped during a checkpoint, we can help you fight the charges.
Many of these checkpoints do not pass constitutional muster. As a result, the court can throw out all evidence gathered and dismiss the charges.
Contact the Sammis Law Firm by calling (813) 250-0500 for a free consultation to discuss your DUI checkpoint defense today.
This article was last updated on Friday, July 31, 2020.