Arrested At A DUI Checkpoint? Check The Legality

Law enforcement checkpoints can be set up anytime, though they are more common during certain times of the year. If you have been arrested for DUI at such a checkpoint, it might be easy to assume that you have no recourse. That, however, is far from true. Just as with all arrests, law enforcement must follow the rules to the letter so that the arrests are all valid. To help you understand the laws applying to arrests at checkpoints, you must go back to the legality of the checkpoint. If the checkpoint set-up didn't follow the rules, your DUI charges could be dropped. Read on to find out more.

Checkpoint Locales

Not all states see checkpoints as illegal. Unfortunately, if you are visiting a state that does recognize checkpoints, then you have no immunity if they happen to be illegal in your state of residency. Only 12 states don't allow DUI checkpoints at all. The states that do allow them, however, have to follow specific laws.

Probable Cause and DUI Checkpoints

When you are driving, you can be stopped for various reasons. Those reasons are known as probable cause. The idea of probable cause is to harness law enforcement's power to pop on the blue lights only when absolutely necessary so there are a limited number of reasons why you can be stopped. It might be for an equipment issue, a violation of a traffic law, or the way you are driving. Just because an officer observed you leaving a bar is not a probable cause — there has to be more than just that present. What, then, happens to probable cause at a DUI checkpoint?

The way law enforcement sees DUI checkpoints is that the probable cause is a situation that might lead to more people drinking and driving. For example, they might set up a checkpoint down the road from a big, outdoor concert or on New Year's Eve. Along with the wide scope of probable cause in checkpoints, some common laws governing checkpoints include:

  1. Stops must be entirely random and follow a preset order. They might, for example, stop every three cars. Only under extreme circumstances can they deviate from this order.
  2. Checkpoints must be planned ahead of time. The public has to be informed about them using local media.
  3. Checkpoint sites must be well-lit with plenty of warnings and directions for drivers to follow.

The above is just a small part of the laws that govern DUI checkpoints. To find out more, speak to a DUI criminal defense lawyer and find out if your arrest was legal. A DUI law firm can further advise you.