A DUI checkpoint (often called a DUI roadblock) was scheduled last night in Pinellas County on Tampa Road.
The law enforcement officers started stopping vehicles traveling on Tampa Road from 10 p.m. Friday, September 28 until 3 a.m. Saturday, September 29. Those vehicles that are selected for further detention were directed into a parking lot outside the Lockheed Martin Plant at 3655 Tampa Road, Oldsmar, FL.
Any deviation from the pre-approved “Operational Plan” may result in a Fourth Amendment violation and a dismissal of the charges. One of our attorneys recently discovered such a violation in a Pasco County roadblock which resulted in cases being dropped by the State Attorney’s Office. Click here to watch a video discussing the illegal DUI checkpoint.
Results of the Pinellas County Roadblock
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that 2042 vehicles passed through the roadblock while 483 vehicles were diverted into the parking lot for further detention. The sheriff’s officer is also reporting that the average driver was subjected to an “intrusion time” of 1 minute and 39 seconds.
The officers issued 16 citations. Eleven (11) vehicles were impounded and ten (10) individuals were arrested as a result of the DUI roadblock. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has reported that the roadblock resulted in the following charges:
5 Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
2 No Valid Driver’s License
1 Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
2 Possession of Marijuana
1 Unlawful Possession of Firearm
2 Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (DWLSR)
1 Trafficking in Hydromorphone
1 Possession of Suboxone
1 Failure to Obey Lawful Command
The officers used the roadblock to detain citizens and inspect their driver license, registration, and insurance. Officers issued citations for any equipment violations while looking for any sign that the driver has consumed any alcoholic beverage. Anyone suspected of consuming alcohol or drugs was asked to step out of the vehicle to submit to roadside agility exercises (often called “field sobriety tests”).
Drivers are not required to submit to the roadside agility exercises. One consequence of refusing the exercises is that the officer might decide he already has probable cause for an arrest. The second consequence of refusing the exercises is that the “refusal” to submit to the exercises can be used at trial where the prosecutor is likely to argue that the refusal indicates the driver was conscious of his guilt. Of course the defense is free to show other reasons the driver declined the intrusive testing.
Likewise, the driver can refuse to take the breath test or urine test. The refusal can result in a longer administrative suspension of the driver’s license and the refusal could be brought up at trial to allege consciousness of guilt. If the driver submits to the breath test and blows over than an administrative suspension will also occur.
If the driver blows over .15 than the driver will be charged with the more serious offense of DUI with a high blow over .15 which comes with more serious penalties including a requirement that the driver install the dreaded ignition interlock device for at least 6 months. Florida case law indicates that “no refusal” DUI blood draws are not allowed in misdemeanor DUI cases either with or without a warrant.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Bus was used for breath testing on the Intoxilyzer 8000. Those individuals that are arrested were processed at the scene before being transported to the jail.
The DUI Checkpoint was staffed by officers from the Patrol Operations Bureau and the Special Operations Division of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, officers from PCSO’s Prision Transport Unit, Traffic Crash Investigators, Community Policing Unit, K-9 Unit. Students in the Law Enforcement Explorer Post 900 worked the DUI checkpoint along side volunteers with R.I.D. Tampa Bay (Remove Intoxicated Drivers).
Although many states have banned DUI checkpoints, Florida courts have found the checkpoints to be allowed under certain highly restrictive circumstances. Anyone stopped in the roadblock and cited for any civil or criminal offense should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss filing a motion to suppress which attacks the constitutionality of the roadblock. If you have any information about the roadblock we would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
Jason Sammis represents clients charged with DUI in the Tampa Bay area, including DUI cases in Pasco County, FL.