(Meredyth Censullo) The Florida Highway Patrol Troop C (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties) has announced the roads it plans to target with driver license and/or vehicle inspection checkpoints in February.
FHP says the checkpoints will be conducted during daytime hours, and generally cause delays of five minutes or less.
Scroll down for a list of all affected roads.
Here are your questions (submitted via Facebook and Twitter @TampaBayTraffic ) about the checkpoints:
Q: Is this legal?
A: There is a policy established by the Florida Highway Patrol that specifies the legal guidelines that must be undertaken by the agency to conduct driver license and vehicle safety inspection checkpoints. The information provided below comes directly from that policy, which was provided by FHP.
Q: How will this impact my drive? Won’t these checkpoints cause big traffic jams?
A: Initially, every third vehicle will be stopped, however the Checkpoint Supervisor will monitor traffic to ensure a backup doesn’t occur. If delays of more than three to five minutes occur, the Checkpoint Supervisor may order an alternate vehicle count (i.e. every fifth vehicle). If the traffic conditions cause a back up that cannot be easily alleviated by the alternate vehicle count, the Checkpoint Supervisor may temporarily suspend the checkpoint until the back-up has been cleared. Once cleared, the checkpoint can be reactivated using the last vehicle count method that was in place. Per the policy, the degree of intrusion to motorists and the length of detention to each driver should be kept to a minimum.
Q: Do these checkpoints affect trucks and buses too?
A: All vehicles and drivers, including commercial vehicles, buses and large trucks, that enter the checkpoint are subject to screening. The only exception is emergency vehicles.
Q: Isn’t this profiling?
A: The FHP police states “vehicles and drivers shall not be stopped on a discretionary basis (i.e., due to the ‘looks’ of the vehicle or it occupant(s).”
Q: What’s a “driver license checkpoint”?
A: Troopers will request the driver license and vehicle registration from each driver detained. If a driver is also the owner or registrant of the vehicle, the Trooper also may request proof of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. FHP says violations will be enforced pursuant to Florida law and Division policy.
Q: What are” vehicle inspection checkpoints”? Troopers aren’t mechanics, so why are they checking my car?
A: Per FHP, defective vehicle equipment, such as bad brakes, worn tires and defective lighting equipment, poses dangers to the public.
Q: What will officers inspect on my vehicle if I’m stopped?
A: Troopers may inspect the following equipment on vehicles:
- Windshield wipers
- Tail lamps
- Directional signals (required on all vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1972)
- Stop lamps
- License plate lamp
- Steering mechanism
- Exhaust system
- Other readily visible equipment (windshield, bumpers, etc.)
Q: Am I going to get a ticket? How much do they cost?
A: During the vehicle inspection checkpoints, Troopers may issue a Faulty Equipment Violations, which are non-moving violations and do not carry points for the driver’s record. Fees for non-moving violations vary by county. In Hillsborough County, a non-moving violation fee is $103, however if a citation is issued, drivers may have the faulty equipment replaced or repaired, provide proof of those repairs, and have the fine reduced to $83. The non-moving violation fees for other counties included in the checkpoints are: Citrus $116; Hernando $114; Pasco $114; Polk $114; Sumter $11
During the driver license or vehicle inspection checkpoints, citations may be issued for seat belt violations ($103-$116 fine). Drivers that appear to be impaired may be arrested, and their vehicles may be towed.