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Can DUI checkpoints be illegal?

If you have had a drink or two, few things are likely to cause you more stress than seeing red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. Still, before officers can pull you over, they usually must have reasonable suspicion you are violating the law. They do not necessarily have to suspect you of driving under the influence, though.

Things change quite a bit at DUI checkpoints. At these roadblocks, officers do not need reasonable suspicion to investigate whether you may have a blood alcohol concentration beyond the legal limit. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, this is 0.08% for most drivers. Nevertheless, it is possible for DUI checkpoints to be illegal.

The checkpoint is discriminatory

Perhaps the easiest way to violate the law when performing a DUI checkpoint is to profile or target specific drivers. After all, checkpoints must be neutral and nondiscriminatory. If officers target you because of your race or for another protected reason, the checkpoint may not be legally valid.

The checkpoint has a legitimate purpose

It is important for a supervising officer to determine where to set up a DUI roadblock. This is because the checkpoint must serve a legitimate policing interest. If officers put the checkpoint in a place where drunk driving is not common, it may not pass legal muster.

The checkpoint protects drivers

Likewise, officers should advertise the location of the checkpoint in advance. Placing signs to notify approaching motorists about the roadblock is also important. Finally, officers should be sure drivers have a safe place to stop.

Ultimately, if you are facing DUI charges following an arrest at a checkpoint, you may be able to use official mistakes to your advantage.