Sarasota Herald Tribune columnist Tom Lyons knows the recent Sarasota DUI roadside checkpoint ruling will probably cause some DUI cases to be dismissed. He is also aware it was a victory for some people who were recently arrested on DUI charges. He also thinks it was the right thing to do.
The case Lyons is referring to was a ruling by Sarasota Circuit County Judge David Denkin in which he ruled that the most recent DUI checkpoint plan submitted by Sarasota County Sheriffs was once again unconstitutional as the sheriff’s department continues to try and balance Florida DUI law and the constitution. It was the second such ruling by Denkin. The central issue in the second plan is the part that requires driver’s to submit to a breath test even if they have passed field sobriety tests.
Lyons writes that DUI roadblocks barley pass constitutional muster as it is and that is why written plans approved by judges are required. The reason being that stopping 100’s of drivers to maybe catch a few that are driving under the influence is a risky proposition to start with considering there is no probable cause at the time of the stop. When a person who is stopped in Sarasota County passes field sobriety tests but is required to leave their vehicle behind if they refuse a breath test, which is not required, that was construed as a seizure and unconstitutional.
Lyons solution is to get rid of the DUI roadblock checkpoint all together. He references the Manatee County Sheriffs who did just that and are instead policing for drunk drivers via “wolf packs”. That is a team of officers out in packs looking for possible drunk drivers sometimes out front of local bar and clubs. Sheriff Brad Steube believes the new policy is leading to more DUI arrests in Bradenton and Manatee County than the checkpoints ever did. It also is not causing traffic jams and inconveniencing all drivers to possible to stop a few possible drunk drivers.