The Legality of DUI Roadblocks
DUI roadblocks (also known as “sobriety checkpoints”) are a common way for police officers to identify and arrest drunk drivers. As any DUI defense lawyer in Orange County can tell you, DUI arrests that stem from a roadblock or checkpoint are certainly defensible in court.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
At a DUI checkpoint, law enforcement officers randomly evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. However, the Constitution of the United States clearly states that police officers cannot just stop someone and conduct an investigation unless there are facts indicating possible criminal activity. While random checkpoints are clearly a violation of the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, the Supreme Court has determined that the government’s interest in preventing drunk driving outweighs the minor infringement of being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. Consequently, sobriety checkpoints can be constitutional if they meet certain requirements.
Preliminary Steps in Defending a Checkpoint DUI
If you have been arrested as a result of a DUI checkpoint, DUI defense lawyers in Orange County will use a two-step approach to attack the roadblock as a means of defending your case:
- First, a lawyer will verify that the roadblock was the only basis for the DUI stop. This is done to make sure that there was not an additional traffic violation (or possibly an equipment violation) that was observed prior to the stop at the roadblock. Once the police officer acknowledges that there was no other basis to support the drunk driving detention, the DUI roadblock is left as the sole reason that justified the detention.
- Second, the lawyer will investigate to determine if the roadblock was organized and operated in a constitutional manner. There must be clear guidelines for the checkpoint that are methodically followed by the police. For example, some jurisdictions stop cars at predetermined intervals.
DUI defense lawyers in Orange County investigate the legality of DUI stops when defending drunk driving cases. For more information on sobriety checkpoints, or if you are being charged with a DUI, contact DUI attorney Mike Coffey at (800) 706-7888.