DUI checkpoints are used by law enforcement officers to check the sobriety of drivers passing through particular areas, and have the added benefit of being a way to discourage drunk driving altogether. These checkpoints are typically used on days in which large numbers of intoxicated drivers are expected to hit the road, such as holiday weekends.
But are these types of checkpoints actually legal in Texas? Here’s some background and information about the legality of DUI checkpoints from a criminal lawyer in Lubbock, TX.
Assessing the legality of DUI checkpoints
DUI checkpoints have been frequently challenged in court, with the primary challenge being that they violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which forbids unreasonable searches and seizures). However, there are still plenty of states that permit DUI checkpoints. The United States Supreme Court, as well as individual state supreme courts, have typically approved DUI checkpoints so long as they publicly release the dates, times and locations of these checkpoints in advance, and if the following conditions are met:
- There is a minimal level of intrusion to drivers passing through the checkpoint
- The state is able to clearly demonstrate an interest in protecting the public at large from potentially intoxicated drivers
- The state can provide evidence indicating the effectiveness of DUI checkpoints in promoting greater public safety and preventing the incidence of drunk driving
But again, you must keep in mind that every state has its own rules. In Texas, DUI checkpoints have not been approved by the state’s courts. In fact, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in 1991 that DUI checkpoints violate drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights, meaning they are unconstitutional.
This means if you’ve been stopped and/or arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Texas, it is important to consult with a criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX as soon as possible, because that would constitute a violation of your rights in the state.
Keep in mind, though, that police officers in the state are allowed to detain anyone they have reason to believe is driving while intoxicated. If they see a driver exhibiting classic symptoms of drunk driving, such as slurred speech, red eyes or alcohol on their breath, and then that individual fails a field sobriety test, it is likely the officer will require them to take a breathalyzer test. You are allowed to refuse to take a test, but it will be held against you in your ensuing criminal trial.
For more information, contact a criminal lawyer in Lubbock, TX today at the Law Office of Rob Biggers.
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Categorised in: DWI