Charged With DUI At A Sobriety Checkpoint?

Sobriety or DUI checkpoints, which involve stopping cars to screen for drivers suspected to be intoxicated, are often used by law enforcement officials to make DUI arrests. When these roadblocks are set up to stop cars, and officers speak to the drivers for a few minutes; should the driver allegedly smell like alcohol, slur his words or otherwise appear to be intoxicated, officers can:

  • Order the driver to pull over
  • Request that he or she take standard field sobriety tests
  • Ask the driver to submit to breath and/or blood tests (generally known as chemical testing) to assess his blood alcohol content)
  • Make a DUI arrest based on the results of chemical tests

However, although sobriety checkpoints have been ruled by the Supreme Court to be constitutional (Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 1990), the rules governing how they should be run are very strict.

DUI Checkpoint Rules

When Colorado police set up a sobriety checkpoint, they must abide by the following rules:

  • Checkpoints must be set up at a fixed point and operated for a limited period of time, so as to minimize the hassle imposed on drivers who are obeying the law.
  • Officers at checkpoints must have a non discriminate method associated with which vehicles they stop; this means that they must stop every car, every other car, every third car, etc. so that there is a consistent, indiscriminate method by which they are screening drivers.
  • Officers at checkpoints can change their method of stopping drivers due to a traffic pile up, changes in weather or some other reasonable cause; however, the cause for changing the screening method, as well as the time it was changed and the method to which it is changed, must be recorded.

If police fail to operate sobriety checkpoints according to the rules, any evidence they gather while illegally operating a DUI checkpoint can be thrown out of court.

Given the complexities of these laws and DUI laws in general, it is vital that those arrest for DUI at sobriety checkpoints work with our trusted Denver DUI attorneys. For a FREE, no-obligations evaluation of your case, contact us today by emailing or calling us at 720-689-0322.