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Why it's legal to stop cars at a DUI checkpoint

No one wants to see a DUI checkpoint up ahead on the road. Even if you haven't been drinking, the thought of encountering law enforcement offices can be frightening. These checkpoints cost money, so they're most often used on heavy-drinking holidays like New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July.

Mandating drivers to pull over because they happen to encounter the checkpoint, even if they aren't driving erratically or committing a traffic offense, has caused concern among some who wonder whether they are a violation of our Fourth Amendment constitutional rights to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on that question back in 1990. The court determined that DUI checkpoints are legal.

It's true that pulling over a vehicle at a DUI checkpoint is a type of "seizure." Further, there is no "probable cause" in the traditional sense since everyone passing the checkpoint is stopped. However, the Supreme Court determined that requiring a driver to stop at a DUI checkpoint does not constitute unreasonable search and seizure. Further, any inconvenience is more than outweighed by the instances in which drunk drivers are taken off the road.

If you're stopped at a DUI checkpoint, as with any encounter with a law enforcement officer, it's important to be respectful. However, you should also know your rights and politely assert them. If you are charged with a DUI after being stopped at a checkpoint, seek experienced legal guidance to help ensure that your rights are protected.

Source: FindLaw, "Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?," accessed March 03, 2017

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