What is a Sobriety Checkpoint?
Sobriety checkpoints are roadway screening processes where the police will initiate a roadblock on a given road and stop all cars passing through the road and briefly interview or otherwise investigate the driver of each vehicle to determine whether each driver is sober or not.
Often these checkpoints may be seen just outside of popular nightlife neighborhoods or on roads that experience a high level of drunk driving accidents or DUI arrests.
These types of checkpoints are legal in most states, including South Carolina. Also, neighboring states such as Georgia and North Carolina also find them to be legal. Only 12 states in the whole country have found that these checkpoints are illegal under their laws, none of which are in the southeast.
Is this a “Search and Seizure?”
In most jurisdictions, the limited inconvenience of establishing sobriety checkpoints, also known as DUI checkpoints, is not considered a violation of federal or state law regarding the rights of citizens not to be subject to “searches and seizures” from the government, specifically the police. Courts have generally found that the minor inconvenience of the brief stops is legal. Also, the fact that the stops occur on public roads and that they are for an important public safety purpose (attempting to identify DUIs before there are potentially any accidents) is considered to be an adequate rationale for the stops.
Are the Checkpoints Effective?
Sobriety checkpoints are considered to be highly effective by some experts. The checkpoints can serve as an important tool in protecting public safety by taking drunk drivers off of the road. Notably, however, publicity around the checkpoints may be more effective than the checkpoints themselves.
When the public hears about checkpoints either through the media or directly from the police through roadside notices or public service announcements, there is believed to be an even greater effect on deterring drinking and driving.
Passive Sensors at Checkpoints
Some law enforcement agencies have deployed what are called passive alcohol sensors to detect alcohol on the breath of drivers who are stopped at checkpoints. These are sensors that can detect alcohol without an active process such as a breathalyzer. Instead, these sensors will “light up” when they detect alcohol, which can then lead the officer at the checkpoint to conduct a more thorough investigation of that driver. These passive sensors are sometimes built into flashlights or clipboards that the officers may be using already so they do not inconvenience the officer.
While about 20 percent of law enforcement agencies use these sensors, only about four percent use them regularly.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer For DUI Help
If you have any questions about DUI in South Carolina, or you are facing DUI charges, it is imperative that you reach out to an attorney for help. The Bateman Law Firm is prepared to help you craft a solid defense if you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Greenville or other cities in South Carolina.