DUI checkpoints—also known as sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks—are legal in North Carolina. They are often set up on the weekends and during holidays to arrest drunk drivers and keep the roads safe.
Although these checkpoints are legal, law enforcement is not allowed to stop whoever they wish. The police must follow certain rules to make checkpoints constitutional under the Fourth Amendment.
Here are several rules DUI checkpoints must follow:
- Checkpoints must be announced – DUI checkpoints must be announced online on the police department’s website, in the news, or in the local newspaper well in advance of being set up. Additionally, checkpoints must have visible flashing blue lights to warn motorists they are approaching them.
- Checkpoints are established for a specific purpose – Police may only check for drunk drivers or other specific offenses such as failure to wear a seatbelt or driving without the headlights on at night. Offices cannot check for general criminal offenses.
- Law enforcement can’t stop just any car – A checkpoint must either check all cars or specific cars based on a certain pattern (i.e. every third or fourth vehicle that passes through the checkpoint).
- Law enforcement doesn’t need a warrant to search your vehicle – If an officer notices the odor of alcohol in the vehicle or that the driver has red and watery eyes or slurs his/her words, the car can be searched without a warrant.
- Law enforcement doesn’t need reasonable suspicion to detain a person – Although an officer doesn’t need reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop a vehicle at a checkpoint, he/she does need them to investigate a potential drunk driving offense discovered during the brief interaction with a motorist.
Remember, if you approach a checkpoint and decide to avoid it, the police have the right to follow you, pull you over, and ask why you avoided the checkpoint. Even if you made a legal turn prior to the checkpoint, an officer may recognize this action as an attempt to evade the checkpoint.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Charlotte, contact Pinnacle Law at 704-625-0691 today.