Summertime Sobriety Checkpoints And Whether They Are Legal

sobriety checkpointsAs the weather heats up, so does the DUI enforcement around the state. No, this is not the beginning of a funny joke. You know it is always hot here. What you may not know is that DUI checkpoints happen all the time. You may have heard of them. You may have even ridden through one or two.

But what are your rights at an Arizona DUI checkpoint?

Are DUI checkpoints in Arizona legal?

Today, we want to discuss this issue with you. We will answer what DUI checkpoints are, what you can do if you drive up to one, and what comes next if an arrest is made. You may need to secure a knowledgeable and experienced Arizona DUI lawyer to help you get through this.

Heading into Summer

It seems like we hear about DUI checkpoints around holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. The news sites love to talk about them, as evidenced by this story about a police chase that ensued after a man sped away from a recent DUI checkpoint in Mesa. That checkpoint, set up over the Memorial Day weekend, happened when a man stopped at the checkpoint and police noticed signs of impairment. When they asked him to exit his vehicle, he took off and sped past several officers.

Police finally caught the man after he ditched his truck and tried to run. He was charged with unlawful flight, reckless driving, and extreme DUI (this is a level of DUI offense that can be charged when a suspects blood alcohol level is at certain levels).

What makes checkpoints legal?

Arizona is one of 38 states that conducts DUI checkpoints. The legality of these checkpoints has been argued for years, with many states finding them unconstitutional. However, the US Supreme Court has upheld their legality. However, there are rules that must be adhered to when it comes to setting up a sobriety checkpoint. They cannot arbitrarily be set up by officers.

  1. They have to be determined to be necessary. Police supervisors have to demonstrate that there could be or has been an abundance of impaired drivers in the area.
  2. Checkpoints actually have to be advertised in advance. The public has to be notified of the time and place of the checkpoint.
  3. There are rules for each checkpoint, determined ahead of time. Officers conducting the checkpoint must have a neutral formula for detaining someone. Officers should be looking for the odor of alcohol, redness in a person’s eyes, slurred speech, etc.
  4. Checkpoints must have adequate lighting and warning signs. It must be clear to people stopping that they are at a police checkpoint.
  5. Checkpoints cannot go on forever. They must have a reasonable time limit attached, and they typically last for a few hours at a time.

If you come to a checkpoint, please know that anything you say and do will be used against you in court. You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test as well as a field breathalyzer test. If you are arrested, they can compel you to take a BAC test at the station, but doing so beforehand may not be in your best interest.

We are ready to help with your case

We know about checkpoints now, but the reality is that most impaired driving charges do not originate at checkpoints. They happen on regular days and nights with regular patrol officers making vehicle stops. If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged, you need to secure help from a skilled Arizona DUI attorney as soon as possible. You could be facing a range of consequences, including jail time. Your lawyer will investigate all aspects of your case and work to get your charges reduced or dismissed so you can get back to living your life.

Click here to find out about how the new ruling does not change Arizona DUI laws.