Last week, as some of our more frequent readers know, we touched on sobriety checkpoints and whether they are legal or not in Virginia. Because that post was intended to be part of a two-part series, we’d like to continue our discussion about DUI checkpoints today by looking at the opposing viewpoints on these types of traffic stops from those who support their use to those who believe they are against each person’s constitutional rights.
Because of a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision, sobriety checkpoints are considered legal provided they are reasonable and conducted in such a fashion that would not overburden drivers or be considered intrusive. Some argue that this assessment is fair because it walks the line between protecting a person’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures and protecting other drivers from potentially dangerous drivers who are under the influence.
On the other hand though, there are people who believe sobriety checkpoints are illegal because they do cross the line and violate a person’s Fourth Amendment right. As some have argued, DUI checkpoints force random drivers to pull over and stop their vehicles, which could constitute a seizure because the individual is not allowed to leave until the officer allows them to. Moreover, because drivers are stopped at random, some have questioned whether an officer would have enough probable cause to then conduct field sobriety tests.
Whether you believe sobriety checkpoints are a good idea or a violation of our Fourth Amendment right, know that these traffic stops are legal in Virginia and can be conducted on a weekly basis according to state law. But know also that you do have the right to legal representation when facing drunk-driving charges and are encouraged to do so to ensure the absolute protection of your rights.
Source: FindLaw, “Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?” Accessed Sept. 8, 2015