Police in many states frequently use DUI checkpoints to pull over all drivers on a given stretch of road and test their individual sobriety. While not all states allow DUI checkpoints as a part of their state-level laws, North Carolina does, which poses very real consequences to anyone who has had a drink or two before driving and winds up in one.
If you recently received DUI charges because of a checkpoint, perhaps you are now quite sure that the practice is not even legal. After all, what about our constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure in the Fourth Amendment? How can the police legally stop a driver without probable cause?
Are DUI checkpoints even legal?
Unfortunately, DUI checkpoints are considered legal, at least at the federal level. In 1990, a Supreme Court decision ruled that the needs of the government to curtail drunk driving and potentially save lives outweighed the individual's rights, at least enough to justify minimal invasion of privacy. Under the ruling, the court noted that the inconvenience to motorists who get caught up in such a checkpoint was acceptable for the purpose of reducing drunk driving-related deaths.
If you receive charges because of a checkpoint, it is rarely a strong strategy to challenge the validity of the checkpoint altogether, but you must still build a strong defense and fight the charges. A solid legal strategy helps protect your rights and may even find ways to discredit the charges altogether.
What can I do about my charges?
Just like a standard DUI charge that one might receive from an individual traffic stop, checkpoint DUI charges are vulnerable to challenges. You may have grounds to challenge
- The condition and calibration of the breathalyzer device used
- The sobriety field tests administered
- The conduct of the officer, if he or she violated your rights in some way or did not follow protocol
These are only a few ways that it is possible to challenge a DUI charge. To determine what makes the most sense in your case, it is wise to use strong legal resources to understand each aspect of your interaction and the reasons that the officer claims you received the charges. With careful preparation, there are often more defensive options than you may realize.
Protecting yourself is the priority
While no defense is airtight, doing nothing and receiving whatever punishment gets handed down is an airtight win for the prosecution. Be sure to protect your privileges with a sturdy defense as quickly as possible, so that you have all the time you can get to review the evidence against you and keep your rights secure.