DUI or Driving Under Influence Checkpoints are checkpoints set up by law enforcement authorities to (usually randomly) check for folks who are maybe driving while being under the influence of substances such as alcohol or drugs, among others.
Such DUI checkpoints mainly manifest themselves during holidays such as the Memorial Day Weekend, Christmas, New Year, Cinco de Mayo, and so on when people are more likely to let down their guard and drive while being in a state where they really shouldn’t be going.
People often get confused over ‘Sobriety Checkpoints’; are they different from ‘DUI Checkpoints’?
Well, the answer is NO; ‘Sobriety Checkpoints’ and ‘DUI Checkpoints’ are pretty much the same, with both having the same set of objectives from a law enforcement standpoint, which is to check drivers who may be driving while being under the influence of substances and thus, not “sober” enough to be driving in the first place.
People arrested at a checkpoint for a first-time DUI offense are sometimes released on their own recognizance (OR), but in other cases, a bail bond is required to be released from jail before the trial.
How to find out where DUI Checkpoints are?
As much as folks would want to avoid driving while being under the influence of substances, sometimes it may simply be unavoidable. Imagine an emergency where a family member needs to be rushed to the hospital in a remote area while the only person who can drive at home has had a few drinks? Will you avoid doing the needful just because the person in question is under the influence? Of course, no!
It is good to find out where DUI checkpoints are preemptive in all such situations.
There are ample online resources to help you with that. With its convenient mobile apps on both the app store and the Google Play store, Mr. Checkpoint App is one such excellent resource.
Intuitively using such resources, you can conveniently find out where DUI checkpoints are.
What happens at DUI Checkpoints?
Firstly, DUI checkpoints vary from state to state across the country. As a matter of fact, there are 12 states in the nation where DUI checkpoints are forbidden altogether.
List of 12 stats where DUI checkpoints are illegal
- Alaska – There is no state authority.
- Idaho – State law makes it illegal.
- Iowa – The law allowing roadblocks does not allow for sobriety checkpoints.
- Michigan’s constitution makes it illegal.
- Minnesota’s constitution makes it illegal.
- Montana only requires “security spot-checks” under state law.
- Oregon’s constitution makes it illegal.
- Rhode Island’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal.
- Texas: According to the state’s view of the US Constitution. It’s unconstitutional.
- Washington’s Supreme Court has ruled that it is illegal.
- Wisconsin – State law makes it illegal.
- Wyoming: According to the meaning of the roadblock law. It is unconstitutional.
In the remaining 38 states, what happens at DUI checkpoints depends on the situation at hand.
Typically, you will find the officer(s) in question asking you first to stop your vehicle and roll your window down. This allows a face-to-face conversation that would otherwise be hindered.
Subsequently, the usual papers are asked for your driver’s license, car registration and insurance, and so on.
With that done, additional questions such as where you are coming from or your destination may be asked of you.
The more you cooperate without arousing any suspicion or concern, the greater the likelihood of you getting away scot-free from such DUI checkpoints.
As a corollary, the more concerns officers have, whether on your sobriety or any warrants on you or your vehicle, the higher the chances of more questions being asked.
If you are deemed to be DUI, which may be a result of alcohol smell or slurred speech, among others, then tests such as asking you to stand on one leg or to walk and turn maybe conducted on you.
Is It Possible to Skip a Sobriety Checkpoint?
At a checkpoint, it’s always necessary to remember your rights. Police might detain you for a brief period to check for signs of intoxication. However, they cannot search you or your car unless they have reasonable cause to believe you are intoxicated or you offer consent.
Is it legal for me to deny a sobriety checkpoint?
You are not permitted to refuse to stop at a DUI checkpoint, but you are not expected to comply with certain investigation aspects.
Under the statute, field sobriety tests vary from chemical (blood or breath) tests because they are notoriously inconsistent. These roadside checks can be failed even by sober people.
A DUI checkpoint does not obligate you to continue. In fact, police departments are required to publicize the checkpoint’s location, date, and length in advance. You should turn around to clear the checkpoint if you can do so without violating any traffic rules, such as doing an unconstitutional U-turn. Under the 4th Amendment, sobriety checkpoints are legal as a fair search, but you can only apply if you pass through the checkpoint and are chosen.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal
DUI checkpoints are contentious in some jurisdictions, but they are legal under federal law as long as police forces adhere to strict guidelines.
Beyond the 12 states referred to above, DUI checkpoints are indeed legal.
Such a conclusion has been arrived at on the premise that DUI checkpoints’ intrusion overrides public safety and overall interest.