DUI sobriety checkpoints in Colorado are becoming more common, especially during holidays and weekends. These checkpoints are set up by the law enforcement authorities to target drunk drivers and make DUI arrests, in an effort to enforce the traffic laws more strictly. The purpose of establishing DUI checkpoints is to stop and briefly speak with the drivers on the scene.
If any sign of intoxication is detected like slow motor skills, slurred speech or the smell of alcohol, the police can ask the driver to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety test and also a blood alcohol test. The driver may get arrested at this point for DUI if the officer believes that the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
According to the United States Supreme Court, DUI checkpoints are a legal method of screening drivers for signs of intoxication. However, the police must follow strict procedural guidelines to make the checkpoint legal. If the authorities fail to operate it as per the legal standards set by the Supreme Court, any DUI arrest made at the checkpoint may lead to dismissal of DUI charges.
For operating a DUI checkpoint, the police must adhere to the following procedures:
Any driver who lawfully attempts to avoid the DUI checkpoint by turning around before reaching the checkpoint shouldn’t be stopped by the police. However, if while attempting to tun around, the driver commits a traffic infarction, the authorities have the right to stop him.
The DUI checkpoint must be conducted for a limited amount of time at a specific location, causing minimal inconvenience to the drivers.
There should be adequate signs marking the DUI checkpoint or devices placed providing advance warning about the DUI checkpoint. The authorities must also explain to the drivers that why they are being stopped.
Stopping of vehicles must be done in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner. For instance, the police need to choose whether they want to stop every car, every third car etc. Once the method is decided, the system must be documented for stopping the vehicles and speaking with the drivers. The system can be changed only if there is a legitimate reason to do so like significant build up in traffic or change in weather condition. Even for changing the system, the police must document the time and reason for the change, in addition to specifying the new method of stopping vehicles.
For on-site supervision, a sworn, uniformed officer should be assigned at the checkpoint. Also, the DUI checkpoint must have sufficient number of staffs and uniformed police officers for assuring efficient and safe operation, depending on roadway size, traffic volume and location type.
In the event that the police fail to comply with any of these procedures, the court may declare that the checkpoint was illegally operated. In such cases the DUI charges imposed on an individual may be dismissed or reduced. To know about the legal operation and procedures of a DUI checkpoint in detail, consultation with an experienced lawyer is the best way to find out if a checkpoint or its procedures are legal and how to fight the charges imposed in the such checkpoints.