In recent years, Maryland has begun to enforce DUI checkpoints. These checkpoints are designed to prevent drunk driving and to identify impaired drivers. Officers are to give notice of these checkpoints in advance via newspaper, local radio stations, or by posting signs indicating the date, location, and time.
Some may think that checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, however, DUI checkpoints have been found to be reasonable in several cases. In Sitz v. Michigan, the court considered three factors when discussing the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints:
(1) the interest to enforce drunk driving laws,
(2) the extent to which that interest is advanced through checkpoints, and
(3) the level of intrusion by the officer towards the individual.
The court concluded that roadblocks are sufficient to advance the interest of enforcing drunk driving laws while negligibly impacting drivers during the process.
In Little v. Maryland, the court reviewed guidelines that officers must follow during these checkpoints in order to regulate the level of intrusion towards individuals. Those guidelines include: all vehicles must be stopped; those that refuse to roll down their windows are allowed to proceed; the stops, themselves, should last less than a half a minute; and officers must not interrogate the motorists or search vehicles.
In Illinois v. Wardlow, the court determined that flight from police officers creates reasonable suspicion for a stop, which would make a U-turn prior to a checkpoint area grounds to stop a vehicle. However, in U.S. v. Lester, the court ruled against it and concluded that making a legal U-turn before a checkpoint does not provide reasonable suspicion to justify stopping a vehicle.
Checkpoints are designed to prevent drunk driving and to identify impaired drivers, however, they often lead to false arrest. It is important that you contact an attorney if you are accused of drunk driving. Call 301.362.3300 today to speak with an experienced Maryland DUI defense attorney at Azari Law.