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DUI Checkpoints: Legality and your rights

As you may know, the police have to have a good reason to pull you over while you're driving. Perhaps you swerved out of your lane or ran a stop sign. Both of those are good reasons to stop you and make sure everything is okay.

One thing that some people have trouble understanding is how a sobriety checkpoint can be legal. Without doing anything wrong, should the police be able to stop you? It's an age-old question, but at the present time, DUI checkpoints are legal, in most cases.

The checkpoints are set up to detect drivers who may be driving under the influence. They can also be used to stop drivers who are speeding or violating other traffic laws. Of course, the biggest question is if it's fair to stop anyone who hasn't violated a traffic law.

The Fourth Amendment allows people in the United States to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures. Searches normally require a search warrant, unless there is a circumstance where immediate action is needed. There normally also has to be probable cause for officers to take actions against you.

Why are sobriety checkpoints legal if there is no reasonable suspicion?

The Supreme Court determined that sobriety checkpoints are legal due to the fact that they are minimally intrusive. The officer may simply ask you to roll down your window and say hello. In some cases, you only have to drive through the checkpoint and won't be stopped. The justices working on DUI checkpoint cases have determined that the need to reduce drunk driving crashes outweighs the right against being stopped, so long as the intrusion is minimal.

What should you do if you're stopped at a sobriety checkpoint?

You're able to respond to officers if you're stopped, but don't admit to drinking or doing anything that could result in further suspicion. While officers have a right to stop you momentarily, they aren't entitled to a full search of your vehicle and may not ask you to perform tests unless there is a suspicion that you've been drinking. You need to know your rights in these situations, since some officers could take the law too far and violate your rights.

If you're stopped and arrested at a sobriety checkpoint, it's best to stay quiet until you discuss your case with your attorney. You want to make sure you don't say or do anything incriminating.

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