Judge Throws Out Evidence Obtained by Police at DUI Checkpoint

          Manatee County Court Judge Doug Henderson recently issued an order suppressing all evidence that the police obtained at a sobriety checkpoint in 2008. 

          According to an article that appeared at BradentonHerald.com, Judge Henderson ruled that  because the Manatee County Sheriff's Office did not follow their own written guidelines regarding the operation of DUI checkpoints, any evidence gathered by the police as a result of implementing that particular checkpoint may not be presented in court by the prosecutor's office.  Judge Henderson's ruling may well result in the Manatee County State Attorney's Office having to drop some, if not most, of those DUI cases.

          In the case of Campbell v. State of Florida, the Florida Supreme Court decided the issue of whether advance written guidelines are required before the police may conduct a roadblock.  In deciding that such guidelines are indeed required, the Court was particularly troubled by the fact that the police worksheets in that case failed to specify "whether the officers were to stop all motorists, or only one in three or one in five vehicles, or were to use some other selection criteria."  That failure, along with several others, rendered Mr. Campbell's stop by the police unconstitutional pursuant to both the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution.

          The Campbell Court concluded with this pertinent observation:

          "The requirement of written guidelines is not merely a formality.  Rather, it is the method this court and others have chosen to ensure that the police do not act with unbridled discretion in exercising the power to stop and restrain citizens who have manifested no conduct that would otherwise justify an intrusion on a citizen's liberty.  In this country the police are not vested with the general authority to set up "routine" roadblocks at any time or place.  Rather, law enforcement was placed on notice by our holding in [State of Florida v.] Jones that the stopping and detaining of a citizen is a serious matter that requires particularized advance planning and direction and strict compliance thereafter."

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