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Is it Constitutional for police to conduct sobriety checkpoints?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Dui And Traffic Violations

Some people in Indiana will face scrutiny over their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after involvement in a motor vehicle collision. Others may be subject to careful evaluation during a traffic stop conducted by law enforcement officers because of how they behaved while driving.

However, there is also the possibility that you could encounter a mass enforcement effort, sometimes known as a drunk driving roadblock or a sobriety checkpoint. At a checkpoint, officers stop every vehicle that approaches to briefly interact with the drivers. If someone shows signs of chemical impairment or admits to drinking too much, the officers will have that person pull to the side for enhanced screening. Officers can arrest dozens of people in a few hours at a checkpoint.

Are sobriety checkpoints legal for police departments to use in Indiana?

Yes, checkpoints are often legal law enforcement tools

There have long been questions about the legality of sobriety checkpoints where every driver on a stretch of road will face temporary inconvenience because police officers stop everyone. Some people have even tried to defend against drunk driving charges by making the claim that a checkpoint was a violation of their basic Constitutional rights.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution does not innately prohibit sobriety checkpoints, which means that they are legal unless an individual state changes its laws to prohibit them. Indiana does currently permit police departments to organize sobriety checkpoints.

There are some restrictions on that process. There needs the appropriate paperwork in place for the checkpoint to occur, and the officers involved must follow best practices related to how they interact with the drivers.

Can you defend against charges after encountering a checkpoint?

If you get swept up in enforcement efforts after encountering a sobriety checkpoint, you might assume that your options for defending yourself will be quite limited. However, there may be many different, viable defense strategies available to you.

From questioning the accuracy of the breath test used by officers to providing a medical explanation for why you failed the test, there are many ways that you could potentially avoid a criminal conviction after an arrest for impaired driving at a sobriety checkpoint.

Learning more about Indiana’s drunk driving laws and federal rules regarding law enforcement behavior will help you better respond to pending impaired driving allegations.