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Rights Regarding DUI Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety Checkpoints are put into place so that police officers can weed out drunk drivers before they cause an accident. These stops are, however, not mandatory just as long as the officer does not violate the fourth amendment rights of the vehicle’s occupants. Not all states in America have clear set legal guidelines on DUI stops.  These states have distinctively outlawed DUI Sobriety Checkpoints. The state of California, with its strict laws against DUI, has legally entrenched Sobriety checkpoints. The fourth amendment of the United States constitution clearly states that it is illegal for an officer of the law to search and seize private property without a clear reason or legal mandate to do so. This in essence could affect the handling of Sobriety Checkpoints and is a clear reason why it is outlawed in some states. The evidence collected by a police officer from a DUI Sobriety Checkpoint can and may be used to arrest you on DUI charges. Subsequently, the prosecution will present this same evidence and use it to convict you in a court of law. The fourth amendment comes in here and makes this collection of evidence a sensitive affair. If any of your fourth amendment rights were violated during the collection of the said evidence, the prosecution might have no case. A competent DUI lawyer could use this to your advantage and either have the case dismissed or file a motion to have the illegally obtained evidence, suppressed.

In order to be arrested for DUI, the police officer must first study your behavior during a Sobriety Checkpoint. The officer will ask you a number of questions and also run a field sobriety test to ascertain your sobriety status.  The checkpoints must meet legal standards which are:

•             Viable research into reasons behind setting up the Sobriety Checkpoint.

•             Presence of a court appointed order for the checkpoint.

•             The police must give the public or residents prior notice on the checkpoint.

•             Legal certification of the police officers present at the checkpoints.

•             The checkpoint must be set up in a safe location.

As a safety precaution to avoid overzealous officers, the checkpoints should not be set up to target specific stereotypes.

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For an officer to stop you on suspicion of DUI, he or she must have probable cause for doing so. He should run enough tests on you to prove your innocence or guilt. The police officer may ask you to stand on one leg, gaze horizontally or ask you to walk on a straight line then turn. Inability to perform any of these tests will mean you are guilty of drunk driving. It is within your legal rights to decline or to participate in any of these tests. This however might come at a disadvantage to you since your driver’s license will be automatically and immediately suspended. All police vehicles have video cameras mounted on their dashboards to records such incidences and also to be used in court to solidify their case. Know more about your rights regarding DUIs and more by entering your Zip at the beginning of this page.