Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Arizona?

If you’re like most people, you can’t stand going through a DUI checkpoint in Arizona. They’re inconvenient and can hold you up for a while. Plus, most drivers get nervous at a checkpoint even if they haven’t done anything wrong. Even though the officers are likely trying to take drunk drivers off the street, a checkpoint opens the door for all kinds of things. You may have an expired inspection sticker or a broken taillight. You can get cited for all sorts of things at a DUI checkpoint. Arizona criminal defense lawyers talk to clients all the time who complain about how unfair DUI checkpoints are.

You may have that one friend who insists they know everything there is to know about the law. They’ve told you time and time again that DUI checkpoints aren’t legal. They insist they’re unconstitutional. The truth is that your friend would be very wrong about this. In 1990, the United States Supreme Court decided that DUI checkpoints are indeed constitutional. According to the court in the case, Michigan v Sitz, the state’s interest in preventing drunk driving outweighs driver’s 4th amendment rights.

Even though the Supreme Court has ruled that these stops are legal, there are eleven (11) states who do not consider checkpoints legal. Arizona is not one of these states. That’s why, if you’re at a checkpoint and are arrested for DUI, you’re going to need a seasoned Arizona criminal defense lawyer.

What is the Purpose of a DUI Checkpoint?

According to law enforcement, the objective and purpose of a DUI checkpoint is to take drunk drivers off the street. Even if the police only save one life from being taken in a DUI crash, the DUI checkpoint is worth it. There’s always the chance that you can be cited or arrested for just about any traffic violation while going through a checkpoint. If your license is expired or you have a brake light out, you will get a ticket. Many people argue that this is unfair. If you didn’t do anything wrong, you shouldn’t get in trouble. It’s a lot different than a regular traffic stop where the cops need reasonable suspicion to pull you over.

Can Checkpoints Be Set Up Anywhere the Police Choose?

While DUI checkpoints are legal in Arizona, that doesn’t mean they can be set up willy nilly. There are certain rules the police have to follow. If they don’t, any arrests made at the checkpoint can be thrown out of court. All your Arizona criminal defense lawyer would have to show is that you would have been arrested if it weren’t for the illegal checkpoint. The court would have little to no choice but to honor your attorney’s request.

The rules regarding DUI checkpoints in Arizona include the following:

  • There must be an explicit and neutral reason for the checkpoint
  • There has to be a mathematical selection process when it comes to stopping drivers. For example, the police may choose to stop every fifth car.
  • The location of the DUI checkpoint must be decided long before it’s actually set up
  • The stopping point must be clearly announced to the public
  • The checkpoint itself must be clearly visible to the public

As long as law enforcement follow these guidelines, there’s a good chance the checkpoint will be deemed legal. That doesn’t mean your Arizona criminal defense lawyer won’t still fight the charges. Their ultimate goal is to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely.

Do You Have to Comply with the Officers’ Requests at the DUI Checkpoint?

As with any other traffic stop, there are certain things the officer is going to ask you to do. First, they’ll ask you to turn over a copy of your license, registration and insurance. You are required to do this. Second, they may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer. You can refuse, however, your license will be suspended fr a year if you do this. Third, the police may ask you to take a field sobriety test. Again, you can refuse to do this. However, the prosecutor can use this in court to try to prove you were drunk at the time of the stop.

Call and Talk to an Experienced Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer

Nobody likes DUI checkpoints. But they’re a part of life in Arizona. If you’re arrested as the result of a checkpoint stop, you’ll be taken to jail. When this happens, you need to call an experienced Arizona criminal defense lawyer. One of our esteemed attorneys will help you right away.