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DUI checkpoints in Virginia: are they allowed? – Part I

Because each state in the United States has the right to write and enforce its own laws, it can be difficult for people to know when they are receiving general legal information and when the information pertains to the particular state in which they live. To illustrate this point, we’d like today’s readers to consider sobriety checkpoints.

Most people who have ever watched television or seen a movie are aware of sobriety checkpoints, which are also referred to as DUI checkpoints or DUI stops. These types of traffic stops are typically depicted as a blockade on a roadway, stationed with police officers, who are testing drivers to determine their level of intoxication. Because this practice is allowed in some states but not in others, some of our Leesburg readers may be wondering if these checkpoints are allowed in Virginia.

The answer is yes. Sobriety checkpoints are permitted in Virginia because of provisions in our state Constitution as well as the federal Constitution. While some other states may only allow officers to operate sobriety checkpoints during certain times of the years or once or twice a month, Virginia law allows officers to operate sobriety checkpoints on a weekly basis if police wish.

Even though these types of traffic stops are allowed in our state, today’s readers should know that officers must operate them in accordance with state and federal law. This means that police departments must operate DUI stops properly and officers must administer sobriety tests in the correct manner. Failing to do so can mean a violation of a person’s Constitutional Rights and potentially a dismissal of criminal charges later on.

Sources: The Governors Highway Safety Association, “Virginia,” Accessed Sept. 1, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “How To Guide: Sobriety Checkpoints and Saturation Patrols,” Accessed Sept. 1, 2015

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