Villarini & Henry, L.L.P.
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Are DUI checkpoints legal?

You may be out having some fun with your friends at a local bar. When you leave, you see police officers at a DUI checkpoint. They are pulling people over they suspect may be driving drunk. So, what do you do? You follow the officers' orders and do everything they say.

What are sobriety checkpoints?

These sobriety checkpoints (also called DUI checkpoints) are initiated by law enforcement to catch people who they believe may be driving while impaired or intoxicated.

  • You can be arrested for having either drugs or alcohol in your system.
  • Law enforcement officials are required to announce which weekend or week the checkpoint will be held but not where.

You may have mixed feelings about having sobriety checkpoints. You may say they help keep impaired drivers off the road. On the other hand, you may be concerned that these checkpoints could infringe on driver's Constitutional rights..

Constitutional rights issue

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, it states it is "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures." It goes on to say that this right "shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation." 

Are these checkpoints legal? It depends on which state you are driving through. 13 states say they are illegal and violate your Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights. The 37 other states, including New York, allow sobriety checkpoints. Despite the few states who decided not to conduct checkpoints, the United States Supreme Court determined that it is better to possibly violate a driver's rights than to have drunk drivers on the road.

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