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The legality of DUI checkpoints and how they usually work

Did you know that in the state of New York, sobriety checkpoints -- sometimes called "DUI checkpoints" -- are legal? That may not seem surprising, until you consider that not every state allows sobriety checkpoints, even though a U.S. Supreme Court ruling stated that these checkpoints are constitutional. They usually happen on a weekly basis and they can catch many people who are driving under the influence.

You can click over to the Governors Highway Safety Association to learn more about the sobriety checkpoint law in New York, in addition to other road laws -- but let's stay focused on the checkpoints themselves for the moment. People who are caught at these checkpoints can have their lives turned upside down by a drunk driving charge.

The consequences associated with a DUI are severe, and there can also be numerous other personal consequences that accompany the legal ones. For example, your friends and family may treat you differently as a result of the charge. You may lose your job, or find it difficult to find a job. DUIs are very serious for a number of reasons.

However, just because you are arrested for and charged with drunk driving at a sobriety checkpoint doesn't mean that the police followed the rules. They are required to obey a number of rules to ensure a proper sobriety checkpoint:

  • Their selection process for which vehicles are stopped at the checkpoint must follow a specific order, such as every vehicle or every other vehicle, to ensure no bias.
  • Information about the checkpoint usually has to be released to the public so that they are aware of the time and location of the checkpoint.
  • The police must have a legitimate reason to give a breath test to a person stopped at the checkpoint.

If the police fail to follow proper protocol for their checkpoint, the people charged at the checkpoint could see their case dismissed.

Source: MADD, "Sobriety Checkpoints," Accessed July 14, 2014

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