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DUI sobriety checkpoints are they legal?

A DUI checkpoint or DUI sobriety checkpoint is an investigatory strategy used by police to temporarily detain a motorist, check their tags and license, peer into the car, and ascertain if the driver may be intoxicated. Recently on our DUI forum a Texas driver asked, “What are the Texas state laws which pertain to a DUI roadblock and what are my rights if I am stopped?” Sobriety Test - Skeptical

DUI sobriety checkpoints and your rights

DUI roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints remain a very divisive issue. Currently thirty-eight states allow the roadblocks, while twelve states do not. If a state allows the roadblock it is because the courts in that state have determined the sobriety checkpoint does not violate the constitutional rights of drivers in that state. Under the state’s laws, if a roadblock is allowed, state law generally permits a police officer to briefly detain the driver at a sobriety checkpoint, but the officers do not have the right to search the driver’s car without probable cause (traffic violation, defect in the vehicle that effects safety, other concrete indications a driver is intoxicate) or unless the driver agrees to the search. The driver is also allowed to refuse to answer their questions.

Requirements for a DUI Sobriety Checkpoint

Even if a DUI sobriety checkpoint is allowed, however, there are also specific rules or statutes which most states must follow. For example, states generally require the checkpoints to be located on public roadways where police officers are specifically stationed to check drivers for intoxication and impairment. Additional rules also may exist such as requiring the supervising officers to make all operational decisions, having the checkpoint at a reasonable location, using adequate safety precautions, detaining drivers for a minimal amount of time, setting the DUI sobriety checkpoint up in an “official manner,” publicly advertising the DUI sobriety checkpoint in advance, and having a reasonable time and duration for the roadblock. If you have been detained or arrested at a DUI sobriety checkpoint it is important to talk to a DUI lawyer. States which allow roadblocks will have statutes which must be followed, and if the arresting officers failed to follow the requirements of the law you may have your DUI arrest dismissed.

Does Texas Allow a DUI sobriety checkpoint?

Texas is one of the twelve states which have outlawed DUI sobriety checkpoints. Although there is not a specific statute that outlaws the practice, there is legal precedent which has been established by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in a case they decided in 1991. In this case the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that DUI sobriety checkpoints violated a Texan's Fourth Amendment rights and were unconstitutional. It is possible; however, that in the future the Texas Legislature might establish guidelines as other states have done to perform checkpoints in a legal fashion. In fact, the issue remains highly contested within the state.

Arrested for DUI in Texas

If you have been arrested for DUI in Texas it might not be at an illegal roadblock, but there could still be issues with the arrest. Talk to a DUI lawyer if you have questions about whether or not you should plead guilty to a DUI in Texas.