Tag Archives: DUI Checkpoints

Florida Attorney Offers Drivers A Bold Approach To Challenging DUI Checkpoints

Florida-based attorney Warren Redlich has attracted the attention of police and motorists alike due to a series of flyers he created to provide an option for drivers objecting to procedures at sobriety checkpoints.

At sobriety checkpoints, drivers are typically expected to roll their window down and provide their license and other documents. Redlich has created fliers for residents in ten states- New York, Florida, California, New Jersey, Ohio, Arkansas, Utah, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina- that drivers would place on their window. According to FairDUI.org, the website that provides the fliers for downloading and printing, “the idea behind the flyer is that you keep it in your car and show it to police at checkpoints and traffic stops.”

The front sides of the fliers read “I remain silent. No searches. I want my lawyer” and proceed to cite state laws that lead to the claim that there’s no need to roll the window down, verbally communicate with police, or physically hand over any documents. The Florida flier, for example, cites a state statute that requires drivers to “display” their license to police “upon the demand of a law enforcement officer or an authorized representative of the department.” The other nine fliers also provide state-specific laws on the fliers pointing out that the language of the laws do not mention requiring the physical transfer of documents from one hand into another.

The back sides of the fliers instruct drivers to keep their window closed, remain completely silent, and record the encounter.

A Youtube video published on January 1st shows motorist Jeff Gray as he uses Redlich’s flier in lieu of talking to police during a sobriety checkpoint on New Year’s Eve in Chiefland, Florida:

Gray placed his license, registration and proof of insurance in a plastic bag and attached it to a string held in place by the car’s window. Gray stopped his vehicle at the checkpoint, and appears to have been cleared to leave without incident.

Redlich told USA Today that the fliers are “a method for innocent people to protect themselves from a bad DUI arrest.” Despite Gray’s success in avoiding being challenged by police at the checkpoint in Chiefland, law enforcement officials have said that this strategy isn’t legitimate. “He was allowed to proceed because he clearly was not driving while intoxicated,” Veda Coleman-Wright, the Broward Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, said regarding Gray’s encounter at the checkpoint. “If those officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver was impaired, they would have investigated further.”

“They wouldn’t be allowed out of that checkpoint until they talk to us. We have a legitimate right to do it,” said Sheriff David Shoar, St. Johns County president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. “If I was out there, I wouldn’t wave them through. I want to talk to that person more now.”

Garrett Berman from Florida’s Traffic Safety Resource division said the laws have changed. “It changed from displaying their license to actually present or submit the license to the officer,” Berman said. “The whole process is actually streamlined to take 30-45 seconds. The problem is when you put that display up; you’re actually going out of your way to delay that detainment.”

Law enforcement officials noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that random DUI checkpoints don’t violate constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

The Associated Press reported that no comprehensive statistics are available detailing how many drunk drivers are caught at checkpoints.

“I’m not anti-cop. I’m anti-bad government and anti-bad cop. I support good cops,” Redlich said. “I would like if police didn’t waste their time with something like checkpoints and would focus their attention on violent crime.” According to Redlich, he has yet to be notified that a driver has been unsuccessful in using one of his fliers. Legal experts have been unable to determine if the fliers would prove useful in court. “These guys are all pushing the envelope,” said David S. Weinstein, a former Miami prosecutor. He said that most states consider driving to be a privilege and people surrender some rights when driving.

FairDUI.org warns that the fliers are not suitable for every person or every situation and clarifies that the fliers are not for people who are driving drunk.

Federal Funds Fuel Nationwide Increase in “No Refusal” Blood-Draw DUI Checkpoints

BenSwann.com often reports on various “no refusal” DUI checkpoints that are being implemented periodically by police in states across the US, at which motorists who are suspected of driving under the influence and refuse a breathalyzer test are sometimes forced to submit to a blood test against their will. In fact, ABC 22 reports that such checkpoints are being implemented this weekend in Ohio. As it happens, the fact that these policies have been emerging in an increasing number of states and counties nationwide is not just a trend. According to USA Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a bureaucracy in the executive branch of the federal government under the Department of Transportation, has been providing state and local government agencies with grants and tool kits to set up “no refusal” blood-draw weekends.

At these checkpoints, drivers are examined by police while sitting in a line, meaning officers do not have the ability to watch for signs of impaired driving and instead are forced to look for less meaningful cues of impairment, such as reddened eyes or other physiological reactions that could be caused by a wide range of other circumstances. It is reasonably conceivable that someone coming home after a long work shift might be fine to drive but suffering from reddened eyes and, when asked to submit to a breathalyzer after driving safely, might wish to refuse on the basis of being uncomfortable with waiving his or her rights or annoyed by the inconvenience. In such a situation, a judge or judicial assistant called a magistrate would provide a warrant via telephone for a forced blood extraction procedure.

Criminal defense attorney Kevin Camp told USA Today that he believes this process is used as a way to circumvent the laws in his state that allow suspects to refuse a breathalyzer. “Search warrants are not supposed to be mass-produced stuff,” he said, commenting on the fast-paced process used to issue warrants via telephone during special enforcement periods, which often happen on holiday weekends. Camp intimated that he knows judges and police organizations who have refused to conduct the checkpoints due to questions about their legality. In most states, suspects who refuse a breathalyzer lose their driver’s licenses under implied consent laws, meaning forced blood extractions after a driver has refused a breath test do nothing additional to enhance public safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website describes its initiative, “The No Refusal program is an enforcement strategy that allows jurisdictions to obtain search warrants for blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath tests. Many jurisdictions allow officers to request warrants via phone from on-call judges or magistrates. This enables law enforcement to legally acquire a proper blood sample from drivers who refuse to give a breath sample. During these specified enforcement efforts, prosecutors and judges make themselves available to streamline the warrant acquisition process and help build solid cases that can lead to impaired driving convictions. The No Refusal program should also be highly publicized to let the public know that their chances of being caught, arrested, and convicted increase during these efforts.”

Thirty states currently have laws on the books that could in theory allow them to conduct “no refusal” weekends. Some states like Texas, where DUI checkpoints have been banned under state law, accept the grant money for the blood-draw initiatives by conducting them county-wide, rather than at checkpoints.