If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Pinellas County, it must have met the regulations for the stops in order to be legal. These checkpoints are usually operated correctly, but there have been times when defendants were unfairly stopped or had questionable evidence against them. If this has happened to you, your case could be dropped entirely.
We welcome you to contact our Pinellas County DUI lawyers today for a free consultation today to get a swift and aggressive defense.
What Are DUI Checkpoints?
DUI Checkpoints, or ‘Sobriety Checkpoints’, are temporary roadblocks or areas that law enforcement uses to check drivers for drunk driving offenses.
In Pinellas County, they are often called ‘Wolf Packs’ and will feature a large increase of law enforcement officers compared to usual. They are often seen on holiday weekends, such as Labor Day and July 4th, when there is a typical increase in the number of drunk drivers on the road – over 450 people were arrested for DUIs in 2022.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Pinellas County?
Yes, unlike some states, Florida allows law enforcement to perform DUI checkpoints so long as they meet the requirements for fair stops and precautions.
Read Related: DUI FAQs
Was Your DUI Checkpoint Arrest in Pinellas County Lawful?
If your DUI checkpoint arrest wasn’t performed correctly and your rights were infringed, then it would be deemed unlawful and potentially get thrown out entirely.
The following criteria must be met:
Was Your DUI Stop ‘Neutral’?
You must have been stopped for a DUI screening through a neutral formula. That means you cannot be stopped based on prejudice for race, gender, age or vehicle manufacturer.
Law enforcement should have a reason to stop you, such as having noticed speeding, swerving, drunk behavior, irregular driving or another traffic violation.
If you were stopped with no justified reason, your case could get dropped. For example, we’ve seen instances of people who have refused a breathalyzer test at a DUI checkpoint get arrested, but then later get their case dropped when we argued there was no reason for the stop as our clients were driving safely.
Was The Checkpoint Advertised in Advance?
The DUI checkpoint must be advertised in advance of its use so that the public is aware of when and where it will be present. In reality, that is often more of a formality and can be hard to know of unless you hunt them out – but are usually listed on the Pinellas County Sheriff’s website or on DUIblock.
Was The Checkpoint Planned in Advance?
The procedures for a stop should have been selected in advance, so the law enforcement team had things to look out for and not just random selection.
The location of the stop should also have a logical reason for it. For example, it should be on a busy road near bars or clubs – and not near your home without justification.
If the checkpoint was not stopped in advance, it would have been unlawful.
Was Your DUI Clearly Indicated and Safe?
DUI checkpoints must have warning signs and clearly identifiable police vehicles. They can’t wait in the bushes to catch you by surprise or expect you to understand it’s legitimate with no identification of that.
Was Your DUI Stop for Longer Than 3 Minutes?
Pinellas County DUI Checkpoints are subject to Florida’s ‘three-minute rule’.
This rule requires police officers to stop drivers at the checkpoints for a maximum duration of three minutes. If your stop lasted longer than three minutes, your Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights may have been infringed, meaning the case could get thrown out entirely.
Were You Clearly Instructed?
When stopped by the officers, their instructions should have been understandable and clear at all times.
Your rights may have been infringed if they didn’t tell you how to properly blow a BAC breathalyzer test or perform a sobriety test correctly.
Was I Allowed to Avoid the DUI Checkpoint?
This is a question that can come with varying answers. The United States Supreme Court ruled that DUI Checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which means you can technically avoid the DUI checkpoint so long as you do so legally and while meeting all driving laws. However, you should not turn around illegally (such as with a sudden U-turn).
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Arrested at a DUI Stop in Pinellas County?
- All is not lost just yet, but you need to act fast. Your license and your future are at risk.
- Do not self-incriminate (you have the right to remain silent and say “I don’t want to talk until I speak to my attorney).
- Try to recall everything that happened, such as when and where the stop occurred, what was said and instructed and what you did.
- Contact our Pinellas County criminal defense lawyers, so we can fight to get your case dropped or penalties reduced.
- We will also work fast to save your license or get you a temporary hardship license so you can continue to get to work – you have just 10 days, act fast!
- We will analyze your case and collect evidence that may prove your stop and arrest was unlawful.
- If the evidence is stacked against you, we will work aggressively to get your penalties reduced. For example, there is the Pinellas County D.R.O.P program for first-time offenders.
DUI Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in St. Petersburg or Pinellas County, then our Florida criminal defense lawyers can fight to help you save your license and clear your name.
We regularly help people like you who have made first-time DUI mistakes or been on the wrong side of an unfair police officer. If this happened at a DUI stop, let us know so we can investigate it.
Our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300