Drunk driving checkpoints are a contentious issue in many states. This includes Florida, where law enforcement officials conduct DUI checkpoints with regularity. As recent news demonstrates, it is vital to understand one’s rights and responsibilities under Florida law and the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment to recognize a violation of rights.

How a Tennessee College Student’s DUI Checkpoint Video Went Viral

On July 4, 2013, Middle Tennessee State University student Chris Kalbaugh was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Rutherford County, Tennessee. The 21-year-old college student filmed his encounter with the police officers conducting the DUI stop and search.

In the video, Kalbaugh can be heard declining many of the officer’s requests, such as to divulge personal information without cause and to exit the vehicle. Kalbaugh remained calm and polite as he correctly cited his right to travel freely without unjust search or detainment. He eventually was released without citation.

After the incident, Kalbaugh uploaded the video to YouTube. It has been viewed more than four million times. News sources around the country picked up on the story, sparking a national dialogue about citizens’ rights and violation of constitutional rights in the face of DUI checkpoints.

Florida DUI Checkpoint Laws and Citizen Rights

Kalbaugh’s video highlights the value in understanding one’s rights in the event of a high-stress situation, such as a DUI checkpoint or traffic stop. It is important for citizens to protect themselves from undue search and seizure and to refrain from self-incrimination in the event of a DUI arrest.

The Fourth Amendment is frequently cited in the DUI checkpoint debate. This amendment protects citizens against unwarranted search and seizure. Many define a vehicle stop as a form of seizure.

The courts have ruled that DUI checkpoints are permissible because law enforcement’s intention to prevent crime (DUI) and injury outweighs the public’s right to warrantless stops.

There are Limitations to Officers’ Authority at Checkpoints

State and local police agencies are required to abide by written guidelines for these checkpoints. These rules outline the circumstances in which officers may stop, question, and detain citizens at DUI checkpoints.

It also limits officers’ authority to conduct random stops and arrests. Acting outside of the guidelines may call for the dismissal of any resultant DUI charges. Note that Florida’s implied consent laws obligate drivers to submit to breath and blood tests in the course of a DUI stop.

A failure to submit breath and blood tests can result in:

  • the loss of license;
  • jail time; and
  • fines, depending on the circumstances

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI and you believe your rights have been violated, contact our Fort Lauderdale-based defense team. Call 954-861-0384 or use this online contact form at your convenience.

Robert Malove
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South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney