Everything You Need to Know about DUI Checkpoints
A charge of DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, can land you in a heap of trouble. In fact, you will need a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with DUI, which is considered a serious criminal offense. DUI checkpoints are the most common ways to apprehend drunk drivers, so it’s important to understand how they work.
What are DUI Checkpoints?
DUI checkpoints are traffic checkpoints set up by the police, where drivers are checked to see if they are intoxicated. Based on the result, they are then either allowed to continue driving or booked with a DUI charge.
Purpose of DUI Checkpoints
There are some official as well as unofficial reasons for DUI sobriety checkpoints, like:
- Controlling Drunk Driving – DUI checkpoints are set up to check for people driving under the influence, especially on days such as July 4th and Memorial Day which experience heavy drinking and by extension, drunk driving. This poses a certain amount of risk to other drivers on the road and can lead to accidents. In the interest of public safety, these police checkpoints are set up to stop those who are driving drunk. In addition, there is also the hope that at least some drivers will avoid driving after drinking, for fear of being arrested under DUI charges.
- Revenue Opportunities – There are a lot of people out there who are driving with expired licenses, missing number plates and any number of other vehicle-related issues that can incur a penalty. The problem is that the police cannot really ask a vehicle to pull over unless they have reason to be suspicious. There is no simpler way of putting it – DUI checkpoints give the police a valid reason to pull over any vehicle, and not have to worry about the “reason to be suspicious”.
Obviously, no police department will ever admit that a DUI roadblock is simply a money-making opportunity for the department. That being the case, it’s best to simply accept that the police department is really concerned about public safety, which is primarily (and most importantly) why these checkpoints are set up.
Legality of DUI Checkpoints
Previously, we stated that police can only pull over a vehicle when they have “suspicions” of something illegal. Pulling over a vehicle without any valid suspicions is considered a violation of the 4th amendment, as a violation of privacy. Now, while the 4th amendment is a right given to every citizen, public safety takes precedence over privacy.
Take for instance the multiple security checks before boarding a place. To be fair, body checks can be considered an incredible invasion of privacy. However, since the safety of an entire plane is at stake, criminal lawyers agree that privacy has to take second place. Police checkpoints run on the same principle, and hence are legal.
In addition to this, “suspicion of crime” has come to include “suspicion of drunk driving”, which pretty much makes it a perfectly legal practice employed by the police. Despite all this justification, there are 12 states where DUI checkpoints are considered illegal (Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming).
DUI Checkpoint Procedures
Here is what normally happens at a DUI checkpoint:
- The police will randomly pick out vehicles driving by and ask them to pull over. Of course, if a person shows signs of being drunk, like driving aggressively or veering out of their lane, then they are more likely to be pulled over.
- The driver is then asked to step out of the vehicle and go through some field sobriety DWI tests. These may include walking in a straight line, a speech test or standing on one leg.
- If the driver fails any DUI test at this stage, a chemical test is next. The driver is taken to a testing center where blood, urine or breath samples are collected for testing.
- The alcohol level is calculated according to the sample taken from the suspect. If the level is above 0.08 %, then DUI is confirmed and the person is asked to contact a lawyer for his/her DUI defense.
Duration of DUI Checkpoints
DUI checkpoints are usually set up near popular hotspots like night clubs and shopping malls. Police usually begin pulling over drivers at around 9 PM. Depending on the amount of traffic and number of intoxicated drivers, these checkpoints may go on well into midnight and beyond.
Consulting an Experienced DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI, the best thing to do is contact a lawyer right away. An experienced DUI court attorney can look at the circumstances in which the arrest was made, examine the evidence, and find a reasonable solution. The lawyer could then help you reduce or eliminate jail time, or even get the DUI conviction charges dropped completely.