FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. According to the Journal of Accident Analysis Prevention, self-reported DUI rates were highest among white males. Yet, when the researchers studied those most likely to face arrest for DUI, those of mixed race were more likely to be charged with a DUI. Why this disparity? Are individuals more likely to be racially profiled during DUI stops? If you think racial profiling may have been involved in your DUI stop, is there anything you can do to protect yourself?
According to the Chicago Tribune, sobriety checkpoints are more likely to be set up in Latino and black communities. The newspaper found that in white districts where DUI accidents and deaths were highest, there had been no DUI checkpoints set up, while in communities with lower accident rates, there were more DUI checkpoints. While Federal guidelines stipulate that law enforcement should use objective criteria when deciding where to set up checkpoints, law enforcement doesn’t always follow these guidelines. According to the Chicago Tribune’s investigative report, only 4 percent of DUI checkpoints were set up in white neighborhoods.
Critics of sobriety checkpoints claim that they violate an individual’s constitutional rights. When these checkpoints are set up in minority neighborhoods, they can be used to perform unwarranted searches and issue violations for minor infractions. While officers are supposed to check every third or fifth car, they may not always be held accountable when using this method. This means that it is possible for officers to base who they are stopping on racial bias, a problem many critics of sobriety checkpoints have noted.
According to the Fort Lauderdale Daily, the problem can be described like this: if you walk into a Broward court, you’ll find a white judge, white lawyers, and black defendants facing trial. Given the disparity, there seems to be a problem with how police are patrolling the streets. Police presence is higher in minority communities, meaning teens are more likely to have encounters with the law at a young age, while suburban whites will be less likely to encounter police. For instance, city ordinances require individuals to walk on the sidewalk and to register their bikes. Over 90% of the people cited for these infractions were black.
So, what can you do if you feel that you were being racially profiled during your DUI arrest? First of all, it is important to understand that officers must have probable cause in order to stop you. If officers did not have probable cause in stopping you, your charges may be dropped. A qualified Fort Lauderdale, Florida criminal defense lawyer like Direnzo Defense, can review your case to determine whether your stop may or may not have been legal. We can fight your charges if we find that your stop was not justified or if evidence may have been mishandled. A DUI conviction is a serious matter. Your freedom and your right to drive is on the line. Visit us at www.fortlauderdaledefenselawfirm.com to learn more about how we can help fight for justice on your behalf.