Over the past decade or so, DUI checkpoints have become more common across the United States. Since a 1990 ruling by the United States Supreme Court finding them constitutional (Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444) many localities have taken advantage of this exception to the Fourth Amendment—the right to search and, potentially, seize.
While some states have outlawed their use, they are prevalent in Colorado and knowing how to handle them can make your ride much easier. We at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., urge you to be careful and drive safely this Fourth of July, for yourself and your neighbors in Colorado Springs.
How Does a DUI Checkpoint Work?
A DUI checkpoint, sometimes also called a “sobriety checkpoint,” “mobile checkpoint,” or roadblock, is a police traffic stop that is general rather than connected to a specific suspicion or ongoing danger. The locations are set up temporarily and positioned in a way for optimal visibility and traffic flow. While driving through a checkpoint, each driver is briefly interviewed to detect any signs of intoxication. Those who seem suspicious are detained and subjected to a sobriety test.
Drivers in Colorado are considered to have given “express consent” to be tested for blood alcohol content by operating a vehicle. This means you cannot refuse a sobriety test without violating state law. Refusing a BAC test can result in you having to use an ignition interlock device for up to two years, and may get you designated as a “persistent drunk driver.” For the specifics, please speak to a lawyer.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
While the United States Constitution requires that police have probable cause for a search or seizure, including traffic stops, the Supreme Court has ruled that the dangers of drunk driving are so severe that they outweigh the intrusiveness of such checkpoints. That means they are legal and police are within their rights to set up these checkpoints.
The National Highway Safety Transportation Board has issued guidelines that police have to use for these checkpoints, however—so officers must follow these rules.
Among them is the fact that police must publicize the checkpoints prior to setting them up. That means anyone can find out the locations of DUI checkpoints beforehand. This is on purpose; visibility has been shown to reduce DUIs because of the fear of getting caught. Holidays are prime time for checkpoints, since there are more cars on the road and many people celebrate by drinking.
DUI checkpoints are especially common during the Fourth of July, so drink responsibly, drive carefully, and avoid the expense and danger of drunk driving.
However, if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, then call us at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., at (719) 401-0585. We can discuss your case and talk about your options, either fighting the charge or trying to reduce your penalties. Our firm provides high-quality representation and we take criminal defense very seriously, because it can impact a client’s entire life.