Criminal Justice

Lawyer's controversial DUI-checkpoint advice: Put license in baggie outside car and roll up window

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A Florida lawyer’s Fair DUI blog offering tips for avoiding problems at a police drunken-driving checkpoint has ignited controversy.

Attorney Warren Redlich suggests that motorists put their license, registration, proof of insurance and a flyer in a plastic baggie attached to the exterior of their vehicle and then roll up the driver’s window as they approach the checkpoint, according to Tampa’s Fox 13 News and PINAC News.

One example of the flyer states in large-font capital letters “I remain silent,” “no searches” and “I want my lawyer.” It cites statutory law to support the driver’s claimed right not to roll down the window, explaining that any ticket can be placed under the windshield wiper and advising that the driver will obey “clearly stated lawful orders.”

Critics say the approach shields motorists from the consequences of driving under the influence by preventing officers from smelling any odor of alcohol and hearing whether their speech is slurred. Redlich disagrees, explaining that his approach protects motorists from overzealous enforcement and dubious subjective claims, as he sees it.

“A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea that police can just stop you for no reason. If you are not comfortable with that, this is a good way of handling a checkpoint,” he told My Fox Orlando. “There are good cops and there are bad cops. The purpose of this flier is to protect innocent people from bad cops.”

A now-viral video of a Levy County DUI-checkpoint stop in which the technique was used on New Year’s eve shows sheriff’s deputies shining a flashlight on the baggie, reading the information and then waving the car on.

However, other DUI checkpoint stops may not go as smoothly. At least one sheriff in another Florida county has threatened to arrest motorists who try the technique for obstruction. And sheriff’s officers in Pasco County were informed by the department’s legal counsel that motorists can be told to roll down their windows and step out of their vehicles if officers witness erratic driving, drugs in plain view or other problematic conduct, Fox 13 News reports.

“It’s legal, but you draw attention to yourself,” attorney Elliott Wilcox, a DUI defense lawyer in Tampa, told the station. “When you draw attention to yourself, then you’d better be squeaky clean going through because otherwise, you give them another reason to pay attention to you. If you are not squeaky clean, that could be the worst thing that happens to you.”

Hat tip: Daily Mail.

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