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Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?

 Posted on August 23, 2017 in DUI/DWI

drunk drivers, DUI cases, DUI checkpoints, reasonable suspicion, Rolling Meadows drunk driving lawyerA DUI checkpoint (also commonly referred to a sobriety checkpoint or a DUI roadblock) is a roadblock initiated by the police in order to stop every vehicle (or a subset of vehicles) in order to assess the sobriety of drivers passing through. These checkpoints are often set up at times when drunk driving is most prevalent (namely around the holidays and on weekends) and on streets that see a disproportionate number of drunk drivers.

The Constitutionality of DUI Checkpoints

Generally speaking, police officers in the United States are only allowed to pull a driver over if they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken the law.

However, in the landmark case Michigan v. Sitz, the U.S. Supreme Court held that sobriety checkpoints where drivers are stopped without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing are in fact constitutional because the government’s interest in preventing drunk driving outweighs the inconvenience to the individuals who are stopped and that, therefore, DUI checkpoints are an exception to the search and seizure provision of the Fourth Amendment.

With that said, in order to be constitutional, DUI checkpoints must be conducted in a certain way. For example DUI checkpoints in Illinois must:

  • Have clear guidelines that are strictly adhered to by the law enforcement officers conducting the checkpoint,
  • Be clearly marked,
  • Be announced to the public beforehand,
  • Be conducted in a neutral and nonbiased manner, and
  • Not be used as a pretense for gathering evidence about another crime without a warrant.

Your Legal Rights

While encountering a DUI checkpoint can be stressful, even if you have not had a drop to drink, try your best to keep you wits about you and remember that your legal rights are still intact. For example, if you see a roadblock up ahead and you are able to safely and legally turn down a side street in order to avoid the inconvenience of stopping, then you are within your legal rights to do so.

However, keep in mind that police officers are often stationed on the side streets surrounding DUI checkpoints so this would be a bad time to break the rules of the road while attempting to avoid a DUI checkpoint.

Additionally, remember that you are not legally obligated to answer a police officer who asks if you have been drinking, although you are required to provide your license, registration, and insurance information when requested to do so.

Arrested for Driving Under the Influence? Contact a Local DUI Attorney

At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we vigorously defend clients facing both first and multiple DUI offenses. Attorney Cosley has experience working as a prosecutor in the Felony and Drug Division of the Illinois state courts and is therefore intimately familiar with the techniques used by prosecutors in DUI cases and is uniquely qualified to defend those accused of driving under the influence.

If you are looking for an exceptionally well qualified Rolling Meadows drunk driving lawyer to protect your legal interests after being accused of driving under the influence, contact us today for help.


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