Under both the US and Louisiana Constitutions, even the temporary stop of vehicles constitutes a Fourth Amendment seizure. Law-enforcement personnel must justify any infringement of the rights of citizens, but safety concerns often override individual rights. Police checkpoints for drunk driving concerns are considered important for public safety and were ruled to be Constitutional. The Louisiana Supreme Court has set forth specific requirements that police checkpoints must satisfy in order to pass constitutional muster and not infringe on the liberty rights of each driver.
Just because sobriety checkpoints are allowed in Louisiana, however, does not mean you can’t fight your DUI arrest.
James Bates and Robert McMillin are criminal defense attorneys with years of experience fighting DWI charges. Contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation by one of our qualified legal professionals.
What the Law Requires for a DWI Checkpoint to Be Constitutional
A 1990 Supreme Court case outlined the following criteria for DUI checkpoints to carried out in accordance with the Constitution:
- Advance warning of the checkpoint
- Minimal detention of drivers
- Use of nonrandom, systematic criteria for stopping motorists
- The “location, time and duration of the checkpoint, and other regulations for operation of the checkpoint, preferably in written form, established by supervisory or other administrative personnel rather that the field officer implementing the checkpoint.”
State v. Jackson, 00-0015 (La. July 6, 2000), 764 So.2d 64, 72.
Law enforcement rarely comply with these requirements. In numerous cases in Orleans, Tangipahoa, and Baton Rouge Parishes DUI charges have been dismissed or reduced when challenged. If you have been charged with a DUI based on a checkpoint or other type of stop you need aggressive and knowledgeable legal representation. Call us for immediate review of your case!
Don’t Confuse DUI Checkpoints with Traffic Stops
Though both involve police stopping drivers for identification and questioning, there is a significant difference between DUI checkpoints and traffic stops. Traffic stops require the police officer to have a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is being committed by the driver. For a DUI arrest, the police officer must have witnessed evidence of reckless driving, driving too slowly, speeding or any other abnormal driving behavior in order for the traffic stop to be lawful.
A DUI checkpoint is different from a traffic stop in that all motorists will be stopped at a checkpoint, regardless of how they are driving. Federal and Louisiana law require the police to stop everyone who passes through the sobriety checkpoint in order to prevent discrimination and violations of Fourth Amendment rights. If you feel you were treated differently at a checkpoint than other drivers, contact our law firm to avoid the penalties of an unfair DUI arrest.
The Do’s and Dont’s of Sobriety Checkpoints in Louisiana
A DUI Checkpoint is often an inconvenience to drivers. Whether you are driving under the influence or not, there are still rules that you should follow in order to prevent a false DUI charge. Here are some tips for what to do at a police sobriety checkpoint:
- Do have the proper documentation readily available—license, registration, proof of insurance etc.
- Do stay calm and respectful—You don’t want to come across as having something to hide
- Do agree to the breathalyzer test if you are arrested—Failure to take the test violates Louisiana’s Implied Consent rule and will result in an automatic license suspension.
- Don’t say anything to incriminate yourself—Information can be used against you, particularly if you lie about your alcohol consumption or where you were.
- Don’t take a field sobriety test—this refusal will NOT violate the Louisiana’s Implied Consent Law.
Even if you follow all the rules, you may still be charged with a drinking and driving crime. Don’t let a mistake or police error ruin your life. Call now to see how you can beat your DUI charges with the help of our skilled legal team!
NOT GUILTY! Client who allegedly blew .16 found Not Guilty.
We successfully defended a client recently who allegedly blew a .16 after being stopped at a DWI checkpoint. The Louisiana Supreme Court has established specific requirements for a DWI checkpoint to comply with an citizen’s United States and Louisiana Constitutional rights. When law enforcement fails to comply with these constitutional requirements any evidence acquired from that state may be suppressed. If you or someone you know has been arrested for drunk driving, you need skilled representation by an attorney who specializes in DWI defense.