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3 actions police officers often take at DUI checkpoints

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2024 | DUI Charges |

Case-by-case enforcement of driving under the influence (DUI) statutes is relatively inefficient. It is impossible for police officers to identify and arrest every impaired motorist through direct traffic enforcement efforts.

Police departments sometimes try to deter drunk driving and catch more people by conducting DUI checkpoints. Sobriety roadblocks or DUI checkpoints allow police officers to screen dozens or hundreds of people in just a few hours. Motorists who encounter sobriety checkpoints can expect officers to engage in certain conduct.

Initial screening of all motorists

The only element of a DUI checkpoint that applies to every passing member of the public is the initial stop. Anyone passing through a sobriety roadblock typically has to roll down their window to briefly interact with the police officer. An officer may ask someone a few questions to screen them for impairment. The vast majority of those who stop should only face a few moments of delay depending on the volume of traffic and the answers they offered to the questions asked.

Enhanced screening for certain drivers

Depending on how someone behaves and their answers to an officer’s questions, a DUI checkpoint stop may result in additional screening. Officers may ask someone to pull ahead or off to the side for additional screening. At that point, officers may want to conduct field sobriety tests. They may ask someone to exit their vehicle and perform physical tasks so that the police officers can gauge their likely level of intoxication. Someone’s conduct during that secondary screening might lead to the officers releasing them or to an arrest.

Chemical testing after an arrest

If a police officer believes that they have probable cause to suspect someone of drunk driving, the next step may be an arrest. The arrest process for those accused of a DUI offense typically involves a request for chemical testing. Drivers can theoretically decline testing, but doing so might lead to an officer arresting them. Implied consent laws make it a separate legal violation to refuse a chemical test when the state already has reason to arrest someone for a DUI offense.

Drivers who know what to expect at a DUI checkpoint can potentially assert their rights more effectively. They can ask to go on their way or refuse field sobriety testing to minimize the inconvenience that they may otherwise experience. Those arrested for alleged DUI offenses at sobriety roadblocks may need to look at the situation carefully to develop a DUI defense strategy. Sobriety checkpoints often yield many arrests, but it is still possible to defend against drunk driving allegations despite encountering a DUI roadblock.