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Constitutionality of DUI Checkpoints Challenged

On Thursday, February 23rd, the Utah House of Representatives passed a bill that would make DUI checkpoints illegal in that State. One of the Utah State representatives reported that research showed that DUI checkpoints are ineffective at arresting drunk drivers.

The bill’s proponents argue that DUI checkpoints interfere with citizens’ Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures. In most situations, law enforcement needs a search warrant or probable cause to conduct a search. This is why law enforcement often must ask you if they can search your bag or your car, and you have the right to refuse. Law enforcement is allowed to conduct a “Terry stop” if they believe that you have committed or are about to commit a crime. During such a stop, they are permitted to frisk you for weapons for safety purposes.

DUI checkpoints are set up to protect public safety and allow law enforcement to indiscriminately stop every vehicle on a roadway to ensure that all drivers are not operating their vehicles while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

If the Utah bill becomes a law, it could open the floodgates for other States to pass such laws. If a similar law is passed in Arizona, it would have a significant impact on the DUI task forces that often set up checkpoints around holidays where people consume large amounts of alcohol. More than 4,100 drivers were arrested for DUI in Arizona between Thanksgiving and New Year’s weekend in 2011.

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact an attorney for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case.

Photo credit: versageek from Flickr