DUI checkpoints are a source of controversy and traffic delays. While DUI checkpoints may legally catch drunk drivers in some situations, they can also amount to an unconstitutional search if police try to misuse them.
Anyone who drives in Nevada should know the rules and understand their rights when it comes to DUI checkpoints. Anyone who suspects their rights were violated at a DUI checkpoint should work with a Las Vegas DUI attorney. Here’s our guide to learn all about DUI checkpoints in Nevada.
What Are DUI Checkpoints in Nevada?
A DUI checkpoint is a roadblock that the police use to stop traffic and look for drunk drivers. A DUI checkpoint stops all traffic that passes through the checkpoint to allow the police to look for drunk drivers. The police may investigate every driver or randomly inspect drivers using a fair and non-discriminatory pattern. A DUI checkpoint is a system that stops drivers to prevent, detect, and prosecute drunk driving.
Does Nevada Have DUI Checkpoints?
Yes, Nevada has DUI checkpoints, including in the Las Vegas area. DUI checkpoints are more common in Las Vegas on evenings and weekends, but they may occur at any time. Law enforcement often publicizes the location of an upcoming checkpoint, but they don’t have to publicize the checkpoint for it to be legal.
How Do DUI Checkpoints Work?
A DUI checkpoint works by diverting drivers to stop their vehicles. The police may choose to wave a driver through the checkpoint, or the police may stop the driver to ask them questions. If the police decide to talk to you, they may look at your license, registration, and proof of insurance. They may ask you basic questions about your driving. If law enforcement thinks that they have probable cause to believe that you may be over the legal limit or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may detain you for a formal DUI investigation.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
Yes, DUI checkpoints are legal as long as the police conduct them in a non-discriminatory way. The police can’t discriminate in the way they operate the checkpoint, such as only investigating people of a particular race or sex. They also can’t unlawfully detain someone longer than they have to in order to determine if the person is drunk driving. However, as long as the police conduct the checkpoint lawfully, it’s legal. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the use of sobriety checkpoints in the case Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz.
The State of Nevada has laws for when the police may put up a checkpoint in the state. For example, the checkpoint must be visible from at least 100 yards away. They must have signs at least 50 yards away and flashing lights.
How Do I Comply With a DUI Checkpoint?
If you’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you must present your license and registration. You may choose whether to answer law enforcement questions, but it might be easiest just to answer basic questions. You have the right to refuse to incriminate yourself, so you don’t have to answer questions about your drinking or your behavior. If the police ask you to take a chemical test, you should take it, or you risk losing your driver’s license for longer than you might lose it if you’re ultimately convicted of drunk driving.
Can I Avoid a DUI Checkpoint?
If you have a lawful way to exit the path of travel before you enter the DUI checkpoint, you may take it. Otherwise, you may not avoid a DUI checkpoint. The police do not have to offer you a way to exit before reaching the DUI checkpoint. If you enter the DUI checkpoint, you must continue through and comply with the requirements.
What Happens If I Blow Through a DUI Checkpoint?
In Nevada, if you blow through a DUI checkpoint, you may be charged with a crime. You may face a gross misdemeanor and up to 364 days in jail. If someone gets hurt because of your failure to stop at the DUI checkpoint, you face a felony and up to six years in prison. If you fail to stop when the police order you to stop, the police may also charge you with resisting and obstructing a police officer.
Do I Have to Show ID at a DUI Checkpoint?
Yes, you have to show ID at a DUI checkpoint. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed police use of checkpoints to stop vehicles including asking drivers to present ID. There are limitations on law enforcement conduct, and law enforcement may not stop you indefinitely or ask more questions than are necessary to conduct your screening. However, asking for ID is something that the police can do when they stop any driver whether at a checkpoint or for another lawful reason.
What Do I Do If I’m Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint?
If you’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint, your best bet is to answer the officer’s questions politely. While you’re within your legal rights to refuse to answer any questions at all, you also open yourself up to additional scrutiny if you fail to speak at a checkpoint. If the police direct you to further investigation, you should comply with sobriety testing but refuse to answer additional questions. If you’re arrested, you should take any offered chemical test and call a DUI attorney as soon as possible.
How Can a DUI Checkpoint Attorney Help Me If I’m Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint?
A DUI attorney in Las Vegas can help you if you’re arrested at a DUI checkpoint by investigating the police actions during the stop. If the police take unlawful actions like acting outside of the scope of the investigation or conducting screenings in a discriminatory manner, the entire investigation and your arrest may be unlawful.
Even if the police act unlawfully, you still must take the necessary steps to bring it to the court’s attention and ask the court to dismiss the case. Your Las Vegas DUI lawyer can help you address all of the possible defenses that may be available in your case.
Las Vegas DUI Checkpoint Attorneys
Were you stopped at a DUI checkpoint? Do you have questions about police conduct at a DUI checkpoint? Contact Half Price Lawyers. It’s our goal to help you mount the most vigorous possible defense if you face an allegation of a DUI checkpoint violation or any drunk driving offense. We offer free consultations and affordable payments.