Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
Arizona has taken a pro-active approach to finding and arresting drunk drivers with its numerous DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols. While many hail this development as a good thing, others are concerned with the legality of a DUI checkpoint and how it relates to the Fourth Amendment and search and seizure laws. So far, the courts have sided with law enforcement officials in supporting the right of police to conduct DUI checkpoints. However, sometimes checkpoint behavior by individual officers is successfully challenged, leading to reduction or dismissal of DUI charges.
Common challenges to DUI checkpoints include:
• Profiling. One of the conditions of a legal DUI checkpoint is that it must be truly random. Police officers are not allowed to target any group of individuals in any way, whether it is because of race, religion, physical appearance or any other factor. If you can show that you were targeted by police officers at a DUI checkpoint because of some arbitrary factor, you may be able to successfully challenge your DUI arrest. • Searches. Searches of vehicles are only valid if there is probable cause. What makes up probable cause is a very subjective topic, and judges may rule in favor of law enforcement or the defense, depending on the circumstances. If an officer searches your vehicle without your consent, he or she will have to explain why in court. However, if you give permission for your vehicle to be searched, it is unlikely that the court will throw the search out. Be sure not to allow a search of your vehicle without your attorney’s approval. • Overly intrusive conduct. While DUI checkpoints offer the opportunity for a law enforcement officer to check for drunk drivers, they do not afford offers the blanket right to ask any questions they choose. If an officer has tried to question you about information unrelated to the DUI checkpoint, you could have a possible challenge to the legality of the stop. If you have been arrested for DUI as the result of a checkpoint stop, it is very important to be sure that your rights are protected and that you are given the full benefit of legal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney. DUI checkpoint stops are successfully challenged every day, but in most cases the defendants have the help of an experienced DUI attorney. Contact the lawyers at Oswalt Law Group in Phoenix for more information and for help in building a successful case against your DUI checkpoint arrest.