DUI Checkpoints in Tampa
Update: The Tampa Police Department announced that on Saturday night, August 20, 2022, it conducted DUI/Safety Checkpoint. The checkpoint was scheduled to begin at 10:00 p.m. and continue until 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 21, 2022. The checkpoint took place at Sligh Ave. and Branch St. near the American Legion Park located at 106 E Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604.
Law enforcement agencies are required to announce DUI checkpoints at least 24 hours in advance. Over the past five years, the number of DUI sobriety checkpoints has been down dramatically because law enforcement agencies are focusing more on saturation patrols.
In a saturation patrol, several officers focus on one area and concentrate on pulling over as many people as possible for traffic violations actually observed by the officer. At checkpoints, on the other hand, vehicles are pulled over randomly even though no traffic violation occurred.
Want to know the good news about being arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Tampa or Hillsborough County, FL?
Checkpoints are the most heavily scrutinized types of stops under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. If officers made mistakes when developing or implementing the operational plan, then those mistakes might cause all of the cases to be dismissed if the appropriate motions are filed.
Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in Drunk Driving Cases.
Attorney for DUI Checkpoints in Tampa, FL
Evidence gathered during those illegal stops can be suppressed. If the evidence is suppressed, then the judge must dismiss the charges. In many of these cases, all evidence is completely thrown out, but officers violate the strict rules for conducting a roadside sobriety checkpoint under state and federal law.
Read more about a botched TPD DUI checkpoint in 2016 that did not pass constitutional muster.
If your arrest occurred at a checkpoint or roadblock, never enter a plea to DUI or any other criminal charge until after you have spoken with an experienced drunk driving defense attorney. At the Sammis Law Firm, we are focused on DUI cases in Tampa, Hillsborough County, and the surrounding areas in Tampa Bay.
We welcome your calls to discuss what happened during your DUI checkpoint arrest in Tampa or the surrounding areas of Hillsborough County, FL.
We file and litigate “motions to suppress” evidence obtained during an illegal or unconstitutional DUI roadblock. If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Hillsborough County or the surrounding areas, then contact us.
Call 813-250-0500 to discuss the case.
Videos of Illegal DUI Checkpoints in Florida
Watch this video to learn more about how Jason Sammis, an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm, uncovered evidence proving that a recent checkpoint in Florida was unconstitutional.
Local law enforcement officers are using checkpoints and roadblocks more often. As a result, individuals who committed no traffic infraction are being detained.
More and more individuals are blowing below the legal limit of 0.08. These low-blow cases indicate that checkpoints are not working as intended and increase the likelihood that an innocent person might be arrested. Aggressively fighting the charges is your best defense against an unreasonable arrest and prosecution.
Your DUI defense attorney can require the prosecutor to provide information not just about whether the stop of your vehicle was reasonable, but about whether the stop of every vehicle in the roadblock was constitutional. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress all evidence in your case because of any illegality during the roadblock operation.
If successful, your criminal charges could be dismissed. Even if an outright dismissal does not occur, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office may be more willing to negotiate the case for greatly reduced charges to avoid a hearing on the constitutionality of the checkpoint.
Florida DUI Checkpoints in Hillsborough County – Operation 3D
In Hillsborough County, Florida, a DUI Task Force has been created called “Operation 3D.” This DUI task force is made up of law enforcement officers throughout Hillsborough County including the Tampa Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Plant City Police Department, and the University of South Florida (USF) Police Department.
The Hillsborough County DUI Task Force publishes in advance information on the dates and locations of predetermined checkpoint operations.
Click here to find out more about the DUI Task Force for Hillsborough County. For instance, the DUI Task Force, Operation 3D, plans to increase roadblocks through the end of 2016. These DUI checkpoint locations in Hillsborough County include Tampa, Ybor City, Plant City, and Brandon, Florida.
More roadblocks and checkpoints are planned for the New Year. Over the New Year’s weekend, Hillsborough deputies made 56 DUI arrests, and 38 of those arrests occurred on New Year’s Eve and during the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.
Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office have scheduled at least 20 more “saturation” patrols during the summer month of 2016 looking for individuals who might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This show of force is specifically targeted at discouraging individuals from driving after having anything to drink.
Roadblock Information the Prosecutor Must Disclose
Your attorney can force the prosecutor to turn over information about every officer that participated in the roadblock, the checkpoint guidelines that must be established before the stop, and the supervisor that set up all of the predetermined procedures to be used in that particular Hillsborough County roadblock.
Reading the checkpoint guidelines used in your checkpoint is just the first step. Other information can be used to determine how many individuals were actually stopped, what delay was caused to vehicles that were not subjected to further investigation, and how many total arrests occurred.
Specific Written Guidelines for the DUI Roadblock Must be Developed to Limit Police Discretion
The roadblock must be developed and operated in accordance with specific written guidelines which spell out the manner in which vehicles will be selected, the procedures to be used for any additional detention of the vehicle, and the manner in which vehicles will be disposed of so that the officers in the field have little discretion in “making up the rules” as they go along.
The Procedures Used During the Roadblock Must Protect the Driver’s Safety
The roadblock or checkpoint must protect the safety of the drivers through adequate lighting, warning signals, and officers that can easily be identified as law enforcement officers.
The DUI roadblock must be utilized in a way that minimizes intrusion and the length of the detention. Finally, the roadblock must be “significantly more effective” in fighting crime than less intrusive more traditional law enforcement methods.
Filing the Motion to Suppress the Hillsborough County Checkpoint Evidence
At a motion to suppress hearing to contest the constitutionality of the roadblock, your Tampa DUI Attorney can call all of the witnesses to testify, including the officer that performed the stop, the officer that made the arrest, the law enforcement supervisor that drafted the “Checkpoint Plan” and any other officers involved in the stop. Any deviation from the written guidelines or procedures may be grounds to show the DUI roadblock was unconstitutional.
If the roadblock in Hillsborough County is deemed to be unconstitutional, then your attorney demand that the judge suppress all evidence against you including your identity, observations that you were driving, the results of any field sobriety exercises, any alleged refusal to submit to chemical testing, or the breath test results.
Contact a Tampa DUI Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the facts of your case involving a DUI checkpoint or roadblock stop.
Charges that Can Be Dismissed in a Florida DUI Checkpoint Case
In the typical DUI checkpoint case the officer may undercover evidence of any of the following traffic infractions or criminal charges:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Possession of marijuana or another controlled substance or drug;
- Driving while license suspended;
- Civil infractions such as seat belt violations; or
- Possession of a firearm or weapon.
If the motion challenging the constitutionality of the DUI checkpoint or roadblock is successful, then all evidence in the case is usually suppressed or thrown out by the Court resulting in the charges against you being dismissed.
Florida Decisions on Motions to Suppress Evidence from a DUI Checkpoint
In Guy v. State, 993 So.2d 77 (Florida 2d DCA 2008), the Florida appellate courts ordered the trial judge to suppress such evidence. In that case, the driving was stopped during a DUI roadblock. The defendant, in that case, was arrested for the felony offense of driving while their license was suspended as a habitual traffic offender.
In that case, the defendant was also on probation for Felony DUI, so the charges against him were quite serious. The Second District Court of Appeals reversed the defendant’s convictions finding that the written “DUI Checkpoint Plan” was inadequate because it gave too much leeway to the officers in the field to make decisions about which vehicles to stop. The Florida Appellate Court also found that the officers involved in the checkpoint did not properly follow even those inadequate guidelines.
No Refusal Weekends in Florida
Florida law has recently clarified that warrants for forced blood draws can only be issued in felony DUI cases. Before this rule, law enforcement officers in Florida were advocating for the right to use force to draw blood from citizens suspected of DUI after being stopped in a roadblock.
How does the DUI refusal checkpoint work in other states?
In other states, law enforcement officers began setting up roadblocks on a particular road for a particular period of time. As vehicles enter the roadblock, law enforcement directs every third car to pull over for further investigation. If the individual admits to drinking alcohol or taking any prescription medication the officer may order the individual to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety exercises.
If the individual is arrested for DUI then the officer will order the individual to submit to a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 8000. If they refuse (or have questions about whether to submit) the officer will tell the driver about the new “No DUI Refusal” policy.
Anyone who refuses to take the breath test will be subjected to a needle being put into their arm for the purpose of drawing their blood either with or without their consent. In fact, the officers want the right to use reasonable force to extract the blood if the individual offers any resistance.
In “no DUI refusal” cases a judge would be on site for the purpose of issuing a warrant to authorize the blood draw. The real purpose behind the “No DUI Refusal” Checkpoints is to discourage individuals from refusing the breath test.
The breath test costs the law enforcement agency only a few dollars for the cost of the equipment spread over the number of times it is used. On the other hand, blood tests are much more expensive.
Additionally, at a trial in a DUI blood test case, the prosecution must call expert witnesses to confirm the conclusion of the lab work. For these reasons, DUI enforcement officers do not want the suspect to refuse the breath test.
Threatening to hold the citizen down and take his blood is a great way to make sure no one exercises the option of refusing to test. Some believe that the “no refusal” DUI checkpoints could be coming to Tampa.
Update on Recent Checkpoints in Tampa
One of the largest multi-agency DUI checkpoints in Hillsborough County was conducted on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. The law enforcement agencies that participated in the checkpoint included the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, and the Florida Highway Patrol. Volunteers with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also participated in the event. During the checkpoint, the B.A.T. was located at 2109 11th Avenue, Tampa within the heart of Ybor City. More than 27 DUI Law Enforcement Officers were patrolling into the night in an effort to reduce DUI crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
Other recent DUI checkpoints in Hillsborough County included the following:
- On late Friday, August 11 until early Saturday, August 12, 2017, the Tampa Police Department DUI unit conducted a DUI checkpoint late near the 5200 block of North Armenia Avenue from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
- From 10 p.m. on Friday, June 9, 2017, to 1 a.m. on Saturday, June 10, 2017, a DUI safety checkpoint was conducted by DUI enforcement officers with the TPD near the intersection of East Slight Avenue and North Branch Avenue.
- On Friday, March 10 to Saturday, March 11, 2017, TPD conducted a DUI checkpoint near the 5200 block of North Armenia Avenue from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m.
- On Labor Day weekend on Friday, August 19 to Saturday, August 20, 2016, the Tampa Police Department conducted a DUI Checkpoint near East Palm Avenue and North 17th Street in Tampa, FL, from 10 p.m. & 1 a.m.
Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) – As the oldest anti-DWI national organization in the United States, RID has chapters or coordinators in 41 states, including Florida. RID is a grassroots organization formed by Doris Aiken in 1978 in Schenectady, NY, after the deaths of Timothy and Karen Morris, 19 and 17 years old, the only Morris children, caused by an intoxicated 22-year-old driver on December 4, 1977.
Tampa DUI Violation of Probation – Read more about the conditions of probation that the court can impose and the consequences of a violation of probation in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL.
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Tampa DUI Attorneys for Checkpoint Cases
If you were arrested for DUI after being stopped at a checkpoint or roadblock anywhere in Hillsborough County, Florida, then contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, the University of South Florida Police Department (USFPD), and the prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office aggressively pursue DUI cases.
Contact us to learn more about saturation patrols in Hillsborough County, FL.
You need an experienced attorney to help you obtain the best results possible for your particular case, especially for a case involving a roadside sobriety stop at a checkpoint.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.