If officers suspect a motorist may be driving under the influence of alcohol, they can stop the driver’s vehicle. Sometimes, though, law enforcement agencies set up sobriety roadblocks. At these checkpoints, officers stop all or many vehicles to determine if drivers are sober.
DUI checkpoints are only legal in 39 states. Indiana and Kentucky are among the states that allow for sobriety checkpoints. Still, for a checkpoint to pass legal muster, it must meet four criteria.
Supervisors, not low-ranking officers, should decide when, where or how to erect sobriety checkpoints. They should also make all high-level decisions related to the execution of a DUI roadblock.
For a sobriety checkpoint to be legal, it must not target specific drivers. Instead, officers must use a non-discriminatory and neutral system for stopping vehicles. Pulling over every car that approaches the roadblock typically works, as does stopping a random sample.
For safety and other reasons, sobriety checkpoints should not surprise approaching motorists. Accordingly, officers should post signs to alert drivers to an upcoming roadblock. They should also provide a safe place for drivers to stop.
DUI roadblocks are inherently inconvenient, as they require motorists to stop and interact with officers. Nevertheless, a sobriety checkpoint should not be overly burdensome to drivers or others. Instead, officers should stop motorists only long enough to determine whether they may be violating the law.
Even though DUI checkpoints may be inconvenient, they are often effective enforcement tools. Still, if you are facing DUI charges, it may be worthwhile to explore whether officers complied with their legal responsibilities when setting up the roadblock that resulted in your arrest.