Road blocks which are established for the primary purpose of identifying potentially impaired drivers are colloquially referred to as “sobriety checkpoints” or “DUI stops.” These check points are typically established on major roads leading to and from large population centers or near popular nightlife spots. In states where sobriety checkpoints are legal, you can almost always expect to see them dotting the roadways on holiday evenings. With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, you should familiarize yourself with the standard procedures which take places at a sobriety check point.
What to Expect at a DUI Checkpoint
Officer will establish a roadblock and direct traffic through 1-2 lanes. They will stop cars individually as they approaches the roadblock. You can expect the officers to ask you to roll down your window. They may ask you a few questions as they perform a cursory assessment of your condition. It is important to note, you are in no way compelled to submit to any field sobriety test. However, refusal may arouse the suspicion of the officer. It is recommended that you remain courteous and cooperate. The officers will allow you to pass and you will be free to continue your evening.
The Legality of Sobriety Checkpoints
The United States Supreme Court has ruled on, and upheld the constitutional legality of sobriety checkpoints. They decided that the ability to outlaw checkpoints we be left to individual states. In Arizona, DUI checkpoints are indeed legal. This allows officer to perform a stop without having “reasonable suspicion.” Arizona follows many of the checkpoint guidelines established by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. One of these guidelines states that the timing and location of formal checkpoints must be established ahead of time in coordination with city or county officials. Additionally, stops can only be made in a predetermined, mathematical fashion. For example, officer can stop one out of every 4 cars in succession.
Don’t drink and drive and stay calm when you are passing through a sobriety check point. Remain courteous. The officers are just doing their job! Keep a smile on your face and try to turn it into a positive interaction for everyone involved.