DUI checkpoints are a way for police officers to enforce DUI laws against drinking and driving. Most states allow DUI checkpoints with only a few states making the sobriety stations illegal under state DUI law. In Florida DUI checkpoints are legal and are used by the police on a regular basis.
During a DUI checkpoint, police officers stop every vehicle or a predetermined number of drivers to examine drivers for signs of impairment. These checkpoints help raise public awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and to arrest people who they believe are impaired while driving. DUI checkpoints are scheduled on weekends or holidays when most people are on the roads and likely to drink.
Although DUI checkpoints help with DUI enforcement, these stations have caused controversy in many states because of the questionable constitutionality and DUI arrest rates.
DUI Checkpoint Challenges
Challenges to DUI checkpoints have cited the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures that occur without probable cause, to support the argument that DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional.
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that the infringement of Fourth Amendment rights caused by DUI checkpoints is overshadowed by the potential public benefit of getting dangerous, impaired drivers off the road. The court added that DUI checkpoints must follow certain guidelines to be legal:
Decisions must be made by supervisors, not arresting officers
Vehicles must be stopped only according to a predetermined formula
Public and officer safety are most important
Locations must be selected by policymakers, based on drunk driving statistics
Duration must be limited by concerns of effectiveness and intrusiveness
Clearly visible warning lights and signs must be displayed telling drivers
Drivers must be detained for the minimum amount of time possible
Advance publication of the place and time is required to increase its deterrent effect and minimize intrusiveness arrest was constitutional.