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Are DUI checkpoints really legal?

When you're driving and see a sobriety checkpoint up ahead, you might wish you could do anything you could to avoid it. It takes time to get through one, and there's no guarantee that the officer won't stop you. If you've had a drink or two, even if you're not too intoxicated to drive, there is a higher risk of being pulled over if the officer speaks with you and notices the smell of alcohol.

The real question about sobriety checkpoints is whether or not they're legal. Some states don't think they are. Others do. In fact, there are 37 states where sobriety checkpoints are used to help prevent drunk drivers from being on the roads. In 13 states, these checkpoints aren't used. Some states, like Texas, stop them because they appear to be a violation of state law or the public's constitutional rights. Other states simply won't spend the funds to have checkpoint programs.

What about South Carolina's checkpoints?

South Carolina does conduct sobriety checkpoints, but it's important to note that no specific state authority has stated that they are legal. There is a potential to challenge the use of these checkpoints, especially if you've been pulled over and arrested at one. By law, officers should have a reason for pulling you over. You must have violated a law. With sobriety checkpoints, officers stop motorists based on their own checkpoint rules that don't necessarily line up with state law.

How do the police decide whom to stop at a checkpoint?

The police are restricted in how they make stops at sobriety checkpoints. Officers have DUI checkpoint rules they must follow before the roadblock goes into place. On top of that, there has to be a plan regarding how to decide which vehicles are stopped. If the officer deviates from the plan, then he or she needs to record why. Additionally, there has to be a reason for the checkpoint in the first place. For example, if there are a high number of DUI crashes and arrests in the area, it might make it a good place for sobriety checkpoints.

The good news for anyone pulled over at a checkpoint is that there is a potential to challenge the evidence if you're arrested for a DUI. Sobriety checkpoints are allowed in the state, but that doesn't mean that they're always appropriate or that they don't violate your rights.

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