Know Your Rights at DUI Checkpoints
When Checkpoints Are Legal
The Supreme Court has ruled that police roadblocks are constitutional if they are set-up with one of four specific purposes:
- checking driver’s licenses,
- gathering information about a crime in the area,
- checking for illegal aliens, or
- checking sobriety, as ruled in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz.
State and federal courts have held that the public interest is served by properly licensed drivers without impairment navigating properly registered, safety-equipped vehicles and that such roadblocks act as a deterrence unable to be achieved via other methods. They have also held that the minor intrusion caused by a police roadblock outweighs this public interest. However, the operation and characteristics of a roadblock are often under scrutiny regarding their reasonableness related to the Fourth Amendment. To evaluate this reasonableness, the Alabama courts consider 13 factors, some of which are the:
- roadblock’s time and duration,
- advance notice provided to the public,
- average duration of each motorist’s stop,
- effectiveness of the stop, and
- availability of less intrusive options to meet the same goal.
Generally, the sobriety checkpoints (or DUI checkpoints) are investigatory tactics whereby the police temporarily detain you to check your license and registration, as well as to determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol. Alabama is one of 38 states permitting this type of DUI checkpoint, and Alabama does not restrict the times or places DUI checkpoints can be held. Functionally, you often see holiday season DUI checkpoints or post-event DUI checkpoints since those typically correlate with higher incidences of driving after consuming alcohol.
Your Constitutional Rights at a DUI Checkpoint
When you are detained at a sobriety checkpoint, you have constitutional rights that are afforded in any roadblock situation. Your vehicle may not be searched without your consent or probable cause that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Further, any questions – with the except of identification questions and the reason you are being stopped at the checkpoint – do not have to be answered, especially if the responses might lead to self-incrimination.
Need a DUI Lawyer?
Have you been charged with a DUI or another charge during a DUI checkpoint stop? Choosing legal representation who understands the interpretation of related laws to guide you through the legal process is key to finding the best possible outcome. Our DUI lawyers are happy to review your case.