For any motorist, realizing that there is a DUI roadblock ahead is not something that is met with shouts of glee. For a motorist who had even a single glass of wine or a bottle of beer before getting behind the wheel, news of that roadblock, also referred to as a checkpoint, is likely met with trepidation. Hopefully, you will never find yourself in that situation; however, if you do, it may help to have some guidelines for handling the situation. Toward that end, a Sarpy County DUI lawyer explains how to handle a DUI roadblock in case you do find yourself headed for one.
Are DUI Roadblocks (Checkpoints) Legal?
It always helps to clear this issue up first because many people question the legality of a DUI checkpoint. Under normal circumstances, a law enforcement officer is required to have an articulable reason for stopping a motorist. Checkpoints, however, are viewed a bit differently. The legality of DUI checkpoints has been heavily litigated, all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). SCOTUS held that the dangers posed by drunk driving outweigh the minimal intrusion caused by a brief detention in a checkpoint. Therefore, DUI roadblocks are legal. SCOTUS did, however, impose some guidelines for checkpoints that are also worth noting.
- Checkpoints must be well-planned out ahead of time.
- It must be obvious to a motorist that they are entering a checkpoint.
- The location must be safe and lend itself to the purpose.
- Vehicles and/or drivers cannot be targeted – investigations must be random.
- Checkpoints must be published ahead of time.
That last little bit of information is something you want to remember. You have the ability to avoid coming across a checkpoint simply by checking ahead of time to see where they will see them up on any given day.
What Should I Do Once I Realize a Check Point Is Ahead?
If you did not check to see where they would have checkpoints out tonight, and you come across one, the most important thing not to do is to panic. Specifically, do not make a U-turn in the middle of the street or take the next exit in an attempt to avoid the checkpoint. Law enforcement officers are watching for motorists to do exactly that and by doing so you practically guarantee that you will be pulled over and put under the proverbial spotlight. Instead, do the following:
- Check your speed to make sure you are not going too fast – or too slow – as both can be indications of intoxication.
- Double check to make sure your lights are on but not your bright lights
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle has their seatbelt fastened.
- Try to relax
Keep in mind that although everyone has to pass through the checkpoint, only a very small percentage of the vehicles that pass through receive more than a cursory glance by a law enforcement officer. Consequently, if you don’t do anything to draw attention to you and your vehicle, you may just get waived through without incident.
A Note about “Ruse” Checkpoints
Something else that needs to be mentioned in any conversation about checkpoints is that you also need to be on the look out for “ruse” checkpoints. Recently, law enforcement agencies in Nebraska have been setting up fake “drug checkpoint ahead” signs in an effort to catch people moving drugs along the I-80 corridor. There is no such thing as a “drug checkpoint.” Officer set up the sign and then wait at the bottom of the next exit to see who takes the exit. Vehicles that exit are followed and stopped as soon as a pretext for effectuating the stop can be found. Do not fall for this ruse.
Contact a Sarpy County DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Nebraska, contact a Sarpy County DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.