Obligations of Sobriety Checkpoints

To ensure no violations arise, law enforcement must plan out sobriety checkpoints with an approved list of guidelines affecting how the entire procedure is performed and implemented. The guidelines often include how law enforcement may search vehicles, when the checkpoints are initiated, how many vehicles are checked or how many vehicles are skipped and other related stipulations

When creating a checkpoint, the backing of local and city government assists in the success of these methods. A successful sobriety checkpoint may be one of many or a routine to ensure less harm befalls those driving on the roads, highways and freeways of the city or state. These procedures best work when they are part of a program to eliminate DUI violations. This ensures a plan is always in place as well as standard procedures are implemented in checkpoint operations. Smoother arrests may be completed and completion of checkpoints may be concluded with minimal issues.

Constitutionally Permissible Checkpoints

Through the Fourth Amendment, the United States Constitution protects American citizens from unlawful and illegal searches by law enforcement as well as seizure of property. However, checkpoints are permitted and not considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment due to stipulations the United States Supreme Court deliberated. Additionally, state supreme courts allow these per state when certain conditions are met. This ensures that under state and federal laws no violations take place against American people.

When a state has an interest in eliminating or reducing drunk driving, it works better to add checkpoints to this program of stamping out intoxication on the road. These programs are often the reason courts allow checkpoints as a valid method for law enforcement. Some courts balance the interest of the state in preventing collisions through intoxicated drivers against the effectiveness of these sobriety checkpoints in assisting in reducing or eliminating the threat these drivers cause. Other factors such as the level of intrusion these methods cause against a person’s privacy through the checkpoints and how the processes run are considered.

Why Checkpoints are Opposed

The importance of personal privacy and the right to keep searches and seizures to a minimum through warrants is a concern when involving checkpoints. Various parts of state government have voiced apprehension that these methods may eventually allow law enforcement to overstep its bounds. The worry is that privacy is intruded and searches are performed that lead to arrests when they normally would not, seizure of property occurs when the items would not have been taken under normal circumstances and many false arrests may have transpired through these actions.

While the concerns may be valid, these checkpoints are created through a plan with very rigid guidelines set forth by both federal and state governments. When these stipulations are not followed, the checkpoint arrests are invalidated and may be reversed. The announcement of a checkpoint prior to its implementation allows drivers to select an alternate route or remain home or elsewhere until the processes are completed. Additionally, not all vehicles are checked. All of these guidelines and stipulations often cover all concerns of intrusion of a person’s privacy as well as unlawful seizure of property.

Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime, it’s important not to automatically plead guilty in order to take what some feel is the easiest route. While you naturally want to avoid a trial when possible, you may still face jail or prison time if you agree to a plea deal, although the sentence will probably be much lighter than it would be if you were found guilty at trial. However, why spend any time at all behind bars or face other punishment if it can be avoided? Never let prosecutors talk you into a plea deal before consulting with a criminal defense lawyer – this is exactly what they want you to do.
Police want to interview you. Although it may be to ask you questions regarding your knowledge of someone else’s involvement in a crime, it is never recommended that you speak with police without first consulting with a defense lawyer. In fact, most will advise you not to answer police questions at all. It is much easier than you might think to say something that incriminates you, and police often put intense pressure on those they’re questioning to get them to admit to something they may not have even done. If the police want to question you, talk with a defense lawyer before you do anything else.

Going to trial is an option you are considering. This is especially true for those who are innocent of the charges against them, as no one wants to plead guilty to something they had no part in. Not only could it result in loss of freedom and a criminal record, your reputation could be ruined forever. In some cases it’s best to go to trial, such as when the prosecutor has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled criminal defense attorney will consider the evidence (or lack thereof), weigh the strengths and weaknesses, and provide you guidance about how to best proceed – whether to proceed to trial, or accept a plea bargain. Additionally, if you do go to trial it is vital to have a capable defense lawyer who will fight vigorously in court to secure the outcome you desire.

Your constitutional rights have been violated. Perhaps you were not given your Miranda warning, or a search was performed without the necessary warrant. There are many situations in which a person’s constitutional rights may be violated, which could result in evidence not being allowed in court. When this is the case, the prosecutor often lacks the necessary evidence to secure a conviction and may drop charges.

Anytime you have doubts, feel you are a suspect, or are of interest to police, do not hesitate to consult with a reputable criminal defense lawyer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Tuomey
Elizabeth Tuomey has been practicing criminal law for more than a decade in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. Graduating from Georgetown University Law Center with a Juris Doctor degree in 2002, Ms. Tuomey focuses on representing clients in drug, DUI, burglary, robbery, assault, forgery, and other criminal cases.

Checkpoints that check sobriety

Sobriety checkpoints often help support many convictions when certain circumstances transpire. It is important to know what rights are afforded to those that are arrested during these procedures.

Sobriety Checkpoint Basics

Checkpoints are placed at strategic areas to check drivers for possible intoxication. Though not all drivers may be checked, the procedures should be the same. This may include searches of the inside or outside of the vehicle, depending on state law. When searches are not employed properly, charges of DUI violations may be invalid or reversed. With certain stipulations present in the plan and implementation of the sobriety checkpoints, the United States Supreme Court has deemed these procedures constitutional. It is up to each state to determine if the checkpoint is more of a roadblock or a valid action law enforcement is permitted to complete. When not considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment, each state may allow police officers to conduct checkpoints with approved plans in place.

Declaration of Valid Checkpoints

In 1990, the United States Supreme Court deliberated upon the checkpoint issue and whether it is considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Court deemed these processes valid and not a violation as long as certain guidelines are in place.

Checkpoints must be a minimal intrusion with specific plans in place that specify how searches are conducted, what parts of the vehicle are searched, how many vehicles are checked and what to do when an arrest is needed. When guidelines are not followed properly, any charges or arrests for DUI violations may be reversed or challenged.

Because of this decision, when a state deems these procedures valid, a person may be charged and eventually convicted of DUI violations when prosecution is able to prove the case. Random checks often reveal intoxicated.

Sobriety Checkpoints in Effect

Stops at these checkpoints have police officers looking for impairment of drivers through various observations. This may also be through a search of the person or vehicle for alcohol or items indicative of drug use or related paraphernalia. Signs officers may discover are usually through odors inside the vehicle or associated with the driver or passenger. These may be due to alcohol, drugs or both. Bloodshot eyes are an indication that the driver is under the influence of some substance in some cases.

Another sign that law enforcement agents look for as indicative of drug or alcohol use is slurred or slowed speech. Other signs may include the inability to answer questions, erratic movements and complications with performing actions. When breath tests are performed, levels above or at .08 blood alcohol content percent are usually a precursor to an arrest for DUI charges. Before or after a breath test, field sobriety tests may be administered to determine intoxication.

Sobriety Checkpoint Expectations

In each state that performs these checkpoints, a county, city or town may establish these procedures with a clear plan in place when it is considered necessary. Cooperation from other departments or agencies may work together in these checkpoints to ensure success. Some cities or counties have seasonal checkpoints that are performed each year a certain time, and some have these processes infrequently. Many holidays may see a sobriety checkpoint, but it is when alcohol is known to be present and consumed regularly that these checkpoints are often initiated. Because these procedures must follow certain guidelines, it is sometimes a requirement that they are announced to the public. A local radio station, newspaper or television news station may announce a sobriety checkpoint days or a week in advance. Signs are placed on the road or freeways to indicate a checkpoint is imminent.

Enforcing a Sobriety Checkpoint

Guidelines for states to follow for sobriety checkpoints are offered by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration when establishing and regulating these operations. Checkpoints should regularly be part of a continuing platform to discourage DUI violations and have backing by the judicial system. A plan should be created first and then implemented in creating and following sobriety checkpoints. A plan should also be in place to ensure the proper chemical or field sobriety tests may be administered.

Individuals who are arrested at sobriety checkpoints may seek legal advice from a DUI lawyer.

A violation of the law has occurred

The capability to stay in the country may be determined by whether the charges end in conviction or a not-guilty verdict. Other factors that may alter the status of a resident may include if any other crimes are committed with the DUI violation or after the violation occurred.

When a person enters the country, he or she has a provisional stay in most instances. Securing citizenship often takes time and much paperwork along with a reason for the person to remain in the country. Because of the provisional status, the constant fear of deportation is a very real threat. In some instances, any single crime may tip the balance into deportation from the United States. This requires the person to return to his or her previous country or another that may accept him or her. Reentry may be possible after these actions, but it becomes much more difficult usually.

How to Get Deported

The conditional agreement when entering the United States is often based on certain factors. These may include a secure line of work, relatives in the country, because of certain situations in the person’s native country when seeking asylum, marriage and other similar conditions. During the process of provisional citizenship, the United States agencies screen these individuals for criminal history, moral character, an agreement to stay at work and an agreement to remain peaceful with no crimes committed. Violations of these stipulations may lead to deportation from the country.

When a person has initiated immigration from their original country to the United States, deportation may occur when any crime considered morally depraved is committed. This usually is deemed one of felony level with violence attached. These may include homicide, manslaughter, rape with or without violence attached, assault crimes, causing disorder and mayhem, large thefts and conspiracy to commit certain crimes. When compared to these harsher and worse crimes, a misdemeanor DUI may not be a concern. In many instances it is only when DUI violations include other crimes or when they are elevated to felony level charges that deportation is a risk. However, being considered a habitual drunk is usually grounds for removal.

Exceptions Causing Deportation

Aggravating factors that cause DUI violations to become harsher may lead to a deportation. These aggravating circumstances often include harsher crimes attached to the initial charge of DUI. The added crimes are usually those of manslaughter, vehicular accidents leading to severe injury and assault with the person’s vehicle. In many instances, the intoxicated driver is either well past the national limit of .08 blood alcohol content percentage, or he or she intended to harm others when driving. Impairment when driving with a legal classification as drunk may cause lapses in judgment or sensory deficiency enough to cause collisions with extensive damage to both property and person. Other factors that may lead to the deporting of the individual often include multiple DUI convictions over the course of a certain amount of years depending upon the state he or she resides. Any additional convictions may cause a work visa to be revoked with leads to the loss of employment in general. The added convictions may also cause the loss of what is considered good moral character which is a requirement in many cases to remain in the United States.

For DUI convictions involving drugs to include marijuana, immigration may be threatened. DUI charges involving drugs may cause severe penalties that could lead to deportation. However, when the drug is marijuana, there is some controversy whether this may affect citizenship heavily. The drug is becoming less important when involved in crimes due to changing attitudes by both American citizens and government officials.