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Can officers legally set up DUI checkpoints?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | DWI/DUI |

As you undoubtedly know, law enforcement agencies in New Jersey are not friendly to drunk drivers. Indeed, according to the Department of Law and Public Safety, even a first-time conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol can lead to imprisonment, fines and the loss of driving privileges.

Officers employ a variety of tactics to catch suspected drunk drivers. While most DUI arrests come from roadside stops of suspicious drivers, officers also can set up DUI checkpoints. For these checkpoints to be legally valid, though, they must have certain characteristics.

What is a DUI checkpoint?

Sometimes called DUI roadblocks, DUI checkpoints are enforcement operations that target a random sample of drivers who approach a certain stretch of roadway. As such, officers do not need reasonable suspicion or probable cause to temporarily detain motorists at DUI checkpoints.

What makes a DUI checkpoint legal?

Even though DUI checkpoints are legal in the Garden State, officers must follow precise protocols when erecting them. Here are some of the requirements:

  • Officers must announce the checkpoint in advance.
  • Officers must clearly mark the location of the checkpoint using signs and lights.
  • Officers must decide which vehicles to stop at random.
  • Officers must allow sober drivers to leave immediately after questioning them.

If officers make some material mistake when planning or setting up a DUI checkpoint, the checkpoint might not be legally valid. As a result, any arrests officers make at an illegal checkpoint may not pass judicial scrutiny.

Ultimately, if you are facing DUI charges after passing through a DUI checkpoint, it might be advisable to investigate whether the checkpoint was legal.