“No Refusal” DUI Checkpoints- Could Florida see more in the future?

Towards the end of last year, we heard the idea that “no refusal” DUI checkpoints could be introduced to Tampa’s fight against drunk driving.

The “no refusal” checkpoints would consist of having a judge on scene, allowing them to issue a warrant for the driver in question requiring that they take a blood test to acquire if the driver was intoxicated.

Currently, a blood test is only to be used when there is serious injury or death involved. Obviously anyone can agree to a consensual blood test but it is very unlikely that anyone would.

According to an article from Floridatoday.com, an appeals court in Daytona on Tuesday questioned whether or not law enforcement could forcefully obtain a blood sample in certain DUI cases. This case dates back to 2009 when Gregory Geiss was pulled over for swerving between lanes. There was no serious injury or death involved but a judge was on scene, a warrant was issued, he had to take a blood test and was charged with a DUI.

The judge in the 2009 case did not allow the blood evidence to be used in the courtroom, but later the state appealed. Two arguments surfaced: Is blood a searchable property? Is the searching of blood an invasion of privacy?

According to the article, Defense Attorney Ernest Chang called the forced tests, “a judicial expansion of powers.”

In 2003, there was a similar case where the defendant was charged with a DUI because of a blood test. In this case, a panel of circuit judges decided in favor of the state 2-1.

It will be interesting to see how the circuit judges in Daytona decide on the Geiss case. With what has happened in past cases, and the decision of this case, we will see if the “no refusal” DUI checkpoints will make way to Tampa anytime soon, or if the current publicity to the Geiss case will put a hold on that.

There’s an App for That- US Senators Request to Ban DUI Checkpoint Alert Applications

There is literally an app for everything these days; a food guide, calorie counter, music streamer… DUI checkpoint finder? Applications such as “Trapster”, “PhantomAlert” and “iRadar” are driving alert applications that notify drivers of speed traps, red light cameras, school zones and DUI checkpoints.

These apps are facing scrutiny from US Senators specifically for the DUI checkpoint feature. Senators Harry Reid, Charles E. Shumer, Frank R. Lautenberg and Tom Udall wrote a letter to Apple asking for the applications to be banned unless altered so that the DUI feature is removed.

In the article, Senators Ask Apple to Pull DUI Checkpoint Apps, we are introduced to the argument of whether or not the application helps or hinders the safety of the public. Captain Paul Starks of the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department fears that the application will not stop people from drinking and driving but will only be used when people have been drinking and want to drive. He remarks,

“They’re only thinking of one consequence, and that’s being arrested. They’re not thinking of ending the lives of other motorists, pedestrians, other passengers in their cars or themselves.”

In the same article, Joe Scott, CEO and founder of PhantomAlert argues that they are doing the same thing police departments are doing to deter people from drinking and driving, the only difference is that the app puts awareness in real time. He stated that

“If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve, they would actually support us.”

So what it boils down to is whether or not this app is actually helping the safety of the public, or creating a tool that drunk drivers can use to dodge a DUI checkpoint and possible arrest. Could this be something that police officers and attorneys will have to start considering when investigating a DUI case?

The applications have not yet been removed but it will be interesting to see how Apple and other parties involved will respond.

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