What are DUI checkpoints?
DUI checkpoints are roadblocks, set up by Metro and or the State Highway patrol to randomly check drivers for sobriety. They are often announced in advance, but the police don’t have an obligation to do so. DUI roadblocks, are commonly found on highly driven roads around major holidays and big events like St Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving and Super bowl Sunday.
Every driver who gets pulled into a checkpoint is asked to perform a Field Sobriety Test if they appear drunk, after a few initial questions. Any driver failing the tests will be arrested for DUI. Most times law enforcement can’t check every single driver who comes into the checkpoint. They must use a fair and neutral formula for pulling random cars for examination, if they are “spot checking’, the formula can’t discriminate against anyone based on legally protected categories, such as race, nationality, gender, etc.
Officers will also check the vehicle for any open alcohol containers. In addition to the vehicle search, they look for bloodshot or watery eyes, the odor of alcohol (or marijuana) and slurred speech.
Drivers who demonstrate weaving or erratic behavior will be automatically pulled into the checkpoint. Drivers who don’t appear under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be allowed to leave the checkpoint area. A driver might get a citation for traffic violations (suspended license, no valid license for example) but usually it doesn’t warrant an arrest, as with driving under the influence.
Police officers must follow several specific rules for DUI checkpoints to be legal. If the police violate the rules set out in the NRS, it may be an illegal checkpoint and that alone might be a defense to the charge of DUI.
All drivers who come upon a checkpoint must stop. Failing to do so is prosecuted as a gross misdemeanor. The penalties include fines of up to $2000 and up to six months in jail. Drivers can turn around before coming to the actual checkpoint, but only by making a legal turn.
Challenging the Checkpoint Arrest
An experienced attorney can analyze your case for the following possible defenses?
- Illegal checkpoints: as mentioned before, law enforcement need to follow a set of rules when setting up checkpoints. If proper signage was missing, the case could be dismissed. A DUI defense attorney will go through videos, photos and eye witness testimonials to show the prosecution the checkpoint wasn’t legally set up correctly.
- Police officer misconduct: A DUI attorney might be able to prove the police officer didn’t take the proper steps in the arrest of the client with the help of videos from dash cams or even cell phones.
- Analyzing the results of the field sobriety tests and the manner in which they were conducted, as in any DUI case.
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