Florida DUI Checkpoints: The Three-Minute Rule

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Got a heads-up from the PR Newswire re: Florida DUI Attorney John Musca. Mr. Musca wants you to know that he’s fighting for your (i.e., his clients’) constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms. Musca’s press release trumpets the dismissal of a recent DUI case, where a careful reading of the law saved his client’s pickled bacon. NB: if the Florida po-po let you go after three minutes, remember: even though you’ve only got one minute to save the world, please observe all posted speed limits.

The state of Florida concedes that DUI checkpoints are constitutional and valid. The Supreme Court acknowledges that DUI checkpoints do in fact constitute a “seizure” relative to the Fourth Amendment yet are constitutionally acceptable with evident effectiveness and minimal intrusion. Hence the three minute rule where every vehicle that enters a designated checkpoint site cannot be detained in traffic for more than three minutes. In the event of exceeding the three minute time allowed, the officer in charge must temporarily suspend the diversion of vehicles into the checkpoint lanes and begin a systematic selection of vehicles to be stopped at the discretion of the checkpoint commander. Vehicles will then proceed back into the checkpoint lanes when the period becomes less than three minutes.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Detroit Todd Detroit Todd on Sep 16, 2009

    These "checkpoints" are Constitutionally prohibited in Michigan. The police must cite a reason for pulling you over. We also do not have toll roads here. We pay taxes to fund our roads. Incidentally, Michigan was also the first English-speaking territory in the world to outlaw capital punishment, in 1846. (It seems they realized, way back then, that the system is fallible.) All that said, Michigan has some of the harshest penalties in the country for drunk driving. It's really not a good idea to do it anywhere, but especially not here.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Sep 16, 2009
    Sniffing your breath and asking you a question or two is not a “search” in the linguistic or legal sense of the word. Calling it “seizure” baffles the mind. “Inconvenience” is probably the most accurate. No offense, but given that you aren't an American, I find it odd that you would take such a passionate interest in US constitutional law. It's a different country from yours, and isn't subject to the same laws and regulations nor the same body of case law as where you are, so your points of reference aren't always going to match. The US Supreme Court has already ruled that a traffic stop is a "seizure" per the Fourth Amendment, so your attempt to trivialize a stop without cause is inaccurate from a US perspective. Unfortunately, and without much of a sound legal rationale, in my opinion, the Supreme Court has also decided that sobriety checkpoints are legal, despite the fact that detentions without probable cause are generally not permitted by the Fourth Amendment. Still, they are unconstitutional per several state constitutions, so that ruling does not apply everywhere in the US. Interestingly enough, it is generally leftish civil liberties groups such as the ACLU that fight against these the hardest, while it's the hardcore conservatives who have served on the Supreme Court such as Scalia and Rehnquist who have seen fit to ignore the Constitution when they think it serves a higher purpose that they just happen to like. You might want to consider the company you're keeping on this one.
  • Benders Benders on Sep 16, 2009

    They did one of these in my area a few weeks back. Nailed a few people for expired registration. That's it. No DUI's. And I thought the Supreme Court ruled that the act of turning away from a checkpoint was not reason enough for the police to pull you over?

  • Imag Imag on Sep 16, 2009

    I just had to post this. Say it can't happen here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009873854_medina16m.html