For most people, driving towards a DUI or “sobriety” checkpoint
is nerve-wracking, especially when they drank alcoholic beverages that
day. What is a DUI checkpoint? It is where law enforcement officers set
up on the side of the road and look for drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs.
With a DUI checkpoint, the police stops vehicles in a specific sequence;
for example, every other vehicle, or every fourth vehicle. This varies
because some checkpoints are manned by more officers than others. The
frequency comes down to the traffic, and how many officers are available
to staff a checkpoint.
Are DUI checkpoints even legal?
In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal. In
most states, including California, if a sobriety checkpoint is conducted
properly, it does not constitute an illegal search and seizure.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the interest in reducing drunk driving
was enough to justify the brief inconvenience of a sobriety checkpoint.
Most states allow sobriety checkpoints, and they include our neighbors,
Nevada and Arizona, but not Oregon, Washington, or Idaho.
Selecting the Right Site
Site selection is key when it comes to conducting a DUI checkpoint. Usually,
they are strategically set up during holidays when drunk driving increases,
and in areas where there has been a high rate of drunk driving arrests,
accidents, or fatalities.
- Identify areas with a high concentration of alcohol-related crashes.
- Ensure that the public’s safety is protected when selecting a site.
- Cause the least amount of inconvenience to motorists.
- Consider the safety of officers when selecting a site.
- Select a site that has plenty of shoulder space to detain motorists.
- Ensure there’s ample room for a potential “back up” of
- Consider the traffic volume, the single-vehicle collision history, and
DUI arrests of a particular stretch of road before choosing it for a checkpoint.
Whenever a sobriety checkpoint is conducted, it must be visible from a
far distance so motorists have enough time to stop safely. Officers use
electronic warning signs, law enforcement vehicles, and flares to give
sufficient warning to drivers.
Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.
Without the right training, sobriety checkpoints don’t yield the
right results – a reduction in drunk driving. That said, the officers
who are assigned to DUI checkpoints should be fully trained in DUI detection
and the standardized
field sobriety tests.
Were you arrested at a DUI checkpoint? If so,
contact our firm to work with an Orange County DUI lawyer who is a
Board Certified DUI defense specialist. Call now for a
free case evaluation!