Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Arizona?

are sobriety checkpoints legalThe summer months are on the way, which means Memorial Day parties and 4th of July barbeques. As the celebrations ramp up, so do the sobriety checkpoints on the roads. But it begs the question of what to do when you come to a sobriety checkpoint and just how legal the findings at such a checkpoint are. An Arizona DUI attorney can help explain your rights in detail, but here’s an overview of what to expect and the laws surrounding sobriety checkpoints.

What is a sobriety checkpoint?

Sobriety checkpoints are designed to limit and control the number of intoxicated drivers on the roads during high-risk weekends and holidays. Just because police officers are trying to protect the safety of all drivers on the road does not mean they can violate the rights and privacy of each individual driver to get there.

A properly conducted DUI checkpoint can be upheld in a court of law. It must be conducted neutrally by officers, meaning they aren’t doing breathalyzer tests on every driver that passes through. Likewise, their line of questioning can in no way be racially motivated. They must ask the same questions to each motorist and have objective criteria for who they question further.

Here’s the process you can expect at a DUI checkpoint:

  1. The officer approaches the vehicle and asks the driver a few standard questions and sometimes asks for a driver’s license.
  2. You do not need to necessarily engage in conversation with the officer beyond their line of questioning and required driver’s license presentation.
  3. If you choose not to answer the officer’s questions though, this can be used against you, so choose carefully. This might make you look suspicious and open you up to further investigation.
  4. If there is any behavior or slurred speech that makes the officer question your sobriety, he or she will request that you take a field sobriety test.
  5. Once you’ve reached this point, it might be difficult to “pass” the test because the officer is already skeptical of your state. You do have a right to decline the field test.

What happens next?

If an officer suspects that you are intoxicated or you refuse the field sobriety test, you can be arrested. At this point, you may be asked to take a chemical test. All motorists are required to take this test no matter what as you sign away your rights when you get a driver’s license.

If you’ve made it to this point in the experience, you should contact your attorney because the results of the sobriety checkpoint can legally be used against you in the court of law. You can be successfully charged with a DUI that is discovered as part of the sobriety checkpoint.

The consequences of a DUI can mean an interlock device on your car, hefty fines and time away for sobriety counseling. It also goes on your permanent driving record, which can make things more difficult for you moving forward. The actions that you take at this point in the process do matter.

When it’s time to call an Arizona DUI attorney

When you are being arrested for a suspected DUI, ask to call your lawyer. You do have a right to have your lawyer present during all questioning, which can help you throughout the process and ensure the best possible outcome of your case.

Your attorney will walk you through the process and help you know which questions to answer and which ones to avoid. An Arizona DUI attorney can minimize or even eliminate the price you have to pay for a failed sobriety checkpoint.

Click here for information on retrograde extrapolation in the context of Arizona DUIs.