A Washington proposal has renewed discussions about DUI checkpoints. Although many states, including Arizona, have had checkpoints for years, Washington is only just now considering adding them and the same constitutional arguments made against the checkpoints in other states are being raised again.
At a checkpoint, police either stop all traffic on a road or single direction of travel or stop cars based on a pattern, such as every other car. The stopped drivers are required to produce identification and are observed for signs of intoxication. If the officer conducting the stop believes the driver may be intoxicated, the driver is subjected to a field sobriety test.
At the heart of the debate are state and federal prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, the police must have reasonable suspicion before they can detain someone to collect evidence of a crime. Critics of the checkpoints say that because individualized suspicion is required, a blanket stop of drivers is necessarily unconstitutional.
Critics have also argued against the effectiveness of the checkpoints, and effectiveness is often considered when deciding whether police procedures are reasonable. They point out that the checkpoints are not cost-effective and that increased DUI patrols have proven far more effective both at providing a deterrent and detecting drivers who are driving while under the influence.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Phoenix, Arizona, you should know that checkpoints have been used by local police for years and have been repeatedly upheld. However, you should still contact a Phoenix DUI attorney because police are required to follow very strict procedures to ensure that the checkpoints comply with constitutional requirements. If these procedures weren’t followed, it is possible that the evidence against you may have been obtained illegally and the prosecution may be required to dismiss the case against you.