Newspapers, radio stations and social media inform the public when police have planned a sobriety checkpoint in the area. In addition, as you approach the checkpoint, signs usually warn you of a checkpoint ahead. Usually, they occur around a holiday or special event when people are likely to be celebrating.
Because law enforcement does not keep the use of checkpoints secret, studies show that they reduce drunk driving accidents and that 82 percent of the general population approves of their use. Despite the fact that police arrest less than 1 percent of drivers stopped at DUI checkpoints, the procedure continues to be an efficient, cost-effective tool for preventing drunk driving. Nevertheless, you were not likely singing the praises of sobriety checkpoints when police pulled you over recently.
Checks and balances
To protect the rights of citizens on the road, police executing checkpoints typically observe the following guidelines:
- Sequential stops: Pulling cars over according to their position in line eliminates the opportunity for profiling by race or other factors.
- Brief encounters: Police should delay drivers only about as long as the average traffic light.
- Probable cause: Police may conduct breath tests or other sobriety assessments only if an officer has a reasonable suspicion the driver has been drinking.
- Deterrent: The point of sobriety checkpoints is not to make arrests but to discourage people from driving after they have been drinking.
If you believe police did not properly conduct the checkpoint where they arrested you or that they searched your vehicle without probable cause, you may be concerned about the outcome of your case. A DUI is nothing to take lightly, and police will be prepared to offer evidence against you that they gathered at that sobriety checkpoint.
The consequences of a drunk driving conviction are severe and long-lasting. Even a first-time offense or a conviction for a lesser charge of driving while ability-impaired will still appear on your driving record and result in penalties.
Facing these possibilities without the assistance of an attorney could be detrimental to your future. A defense attorney who has experience on both sides of the criminal justice system will be able to critically examine the evidence against you and build a case that will work to your advantage. Having an advocate on your side as soon as possible after your arrest will improve your chances of a positive outcome.