Pinellas County DUI Roadblock or “Checkpoint” Effective?

I see many clients charged or cited after a roadblock for crimes ranging from DUI or driving while suspended license to traffic citations for failing to wear a seatbelt. Roadblock or checkpoint stops are the most heavily scrutinized under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Many of these cases can be won when your DUI attorney files and litigates a motion to suppress arguing that the roadblock was not set up or executed properly. The best thing about theses motions to suppress is that you are arguing not just that the stop of your client was illegal, but that some part of the entire roadblock operation was illegal.

Because these DUI checkpoint motions contest the entire roadblock setup many more witnesses are required. The motion to suppress hearing can last several days, sometimes longer than the DUI trial itself. After going through such a hearing, many prosecutors hate prosecuting the roadblok case as soon as they see the defense attorney is filing a motion to suppress the stop.

When successful, the Court will then grant the motion and exclude any evidence gained after the illegal stop, including the identity of the driver, results of field sobriety exercises, or breath test results. The motion to suppress can be filed in any case affected by the roadblock, including felony, misdemeanor, DUI, or even traffic infraction cases such a driving on a suspended driver’s license.

Being stopped in a DUI checkpoint or roadblock in Pinellas County, FL, can be a frustrating experience even if you have done nothing wrong and escape without being issued a traffic infraction. Deputies with the Pinellas County run a DUI checkpoint about every two months. Many argue that stopping vehicles without reasonable suspicion or probable cause is an ineffective way to fight crime while at the same time causes considerable delay and frustration to thousands of driver’s that are never arrested for any misdemeanor, DUI, or felony criminal offenses.

How many innocent driver’s are inconvenienced? A recent article on Roadblock and DUI Checkpoints in Pinellas County shows that more than 30 deputies participated in the roadblock which caused an average delay to non-impaired drivers of one minute and 33 seconds. More than 1,200 vehicles went through the checkpoint with 353 being diverted for further “assessment” by the officers. By my math that is 31 hours of delay for non-impaired drivers (although math was never my strong suit).

With more an 30 officers involved guess how many DUI arrests were made? Only 10. In fact, the total number of arrests were only 17. The math is pretty easy – 30 officers and only 17 total arrests over the course of the entire evening.

It seems the taxpayers of Pinellas County would have been better served if those 30 police officers had been out patrolling the streets, responding to emergency calls, or investigating individuals for traffic infractions and possible DUI. An additional benefit of the police actually doing their jobs in looking for actual criminals is that thousands of law abiding citizens would not be delayed.

What is the real point of the roadblock? One could argue it is a “show of force” by law enforcement for all of the good citizens that have the misfortune of passing through the checkpoint that drinking and driving is not acceptable in Pinellas County even if there is no sign of impairment. This argument is supported by the fact that all innocent drivers did not walk away empty handed. Instead, they each received a pamphlet telling them the purpose of the Pinellas County DUI roadblock and checkpoint operation. Gee, thanks.

Read the informative article about recent DUI roadblock and checkpoint stops in Pinellas County, FL, which follows recent DUI roadblock and checkpoint in Pinellas County that resulted in 17 arrests on 25 charges. Those arrests and charges included 10 for DUI, two charges for refusal to submit to breath test, two charges for no valid driver license, two charges for driving while license suspended or revoked, two charges for possession of marijuana, one charge each for possession of hydrocodone, possession of oxycodone, possession of cocaine, carrying a concealed weapon, unauthorized possession of identification card, and disorderly intoxication. Deputies also impounded 11 vehicle and issued 33 traffic citations, primarily for not wearing a seatbelt.

Over the past twelve years, members of Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) accompany the law enforcement officers of every agency in Pinellas County during every DUI checkpoint or roadblock. Volunteers for RID even serve the officers refreshments during the checkpoint (surprisingly donuts are not on the menu).

Are the DUI checkpoints worth the inconveience to law abiding citizens of Pinellas County?

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  1. By » Pinellas County DUI Roadblock or “Checkpoint” Effective? « Tampa … | DUI Attorney Search on July 21, 2009 at 09:20

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