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The legality of DUI checkpoints

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2023 | DUI |

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported 115 deaths in accidents involving alcohol in 2021. One life lost is too many when it comes to these preventable incidents.

Law enforcement in the state works diligently to keep drunk drivers off the roads. One tool they use is DUI checkpoints, but these are controversial. Some people wonder how they are legal and not entrapment.

How they work

DUI checkpoints involve law enforcement officers setting up a temporary roadblock to stop and inspect drivers for signs of impairment due to alcohol or drugs. The legality of these checkpoints has been a topic of debate, raising concerns about Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue in the case of Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990). In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that properly conducted DUI checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment, as long as they meet certain conditions.

Conditions they must meet

Law enforcement must conduct DUI checkpoints in accordance with a neutral plan or policy. They must have specific guidelines that establish the checkpoints at predetermined locations. Officers should stop vehicles systematically, such as every third vehicle, rather than using arbitrary judgment.

Additionally, there must be a limit on the duration of the checkpoint and the amount of time officers can detain drivers without reasonable suspicion of impairment.

Even with the Supreme Court establishing the legality of DUI checkpoints, there are still ongoing debates about their effectiveness and potential for abuse. Critics argue that these checkpoints can be intrusive and may disproportionately target certain demographics. Supporters, on the other hand, emphasize their role in deterring drunk driving and saving lives.