Virginia sobriety checkpoints are a tool used by law enforcement to identify and arrest intoxicated drivers. While police argue that DUI checkpoints serve an important goal of preventing drunk driving accidents, there are also concerns that checkpoints could violate Fourth Amendment rules against illegal and unreasonable search and seizure.
Virginia courts have ruled it is permissible for police to operate DUI checkpoints, but Virginia law imposes certain limitations to ensure that the need of police to check for drunk drivers is carefully balanced with the protections in the Constitution. If you believe your rights were violated, you can keep evidence collected at a DUI checkpoint from being used against you in court.
Contact the Virginia DUI lawyers at The Wilson Law Firm for help if you feel you were targeted at a drunk driving checkpoint. We will determine if the police acted appropriately in your case.
Rules and Limits on Sobriety Checkpoints in Virginia
There are specific guidelines for sobriety checkpoints in Virginia:
- Police must publicize news of a checkpoint in advance. Information about when and where DUI checkpoints are being held can generally be found on the “news” section of the police department website, through notifications in local newspapers, and on local television shows.
- Police are prohibited from stopping every vehicle that approaches. Instead, a mathematical formula is used to determine which cars will be stopped. It is common for police to stop every fourth car or every fifth car, although the formula used can differ from checkpoint to checkpoint.
- Police may pull over motorists who break the laws or who give law enforcement probable cause they are doing something wrong. For example, if you make an illegal U-turn to get out of line at a DUI checkpoint, police can pull you over for the illegal turn. Law enforcement could also pull you over if you were speeding, driving erratically, had a broken taillight or otherwise did something wrong while waiting in line for or going through the checkpoint.
After you have been pulled over, police cannot require you to submit to a BAC test or field sobriety test unless there is reason to believe you are intoxicated. If there are no signs of impairment, it would be illegal for police to make you submit to any type of testing to determine if you were drunk.
To avoid arousing suspicion, you should always be polite when police have pulled you over at a DUI checkpoint. Remember that you are also not required to let them search your car and you don’t have to answer questions about where you were or what you were doing before approaching the checkpoint.
Arrests at DUI Checkpoints in Virginia
If there is probable cause that you have violated the law and are driving while impaired, you are required to submit to a BAC test when pulled over at a checkpoint by police. Refusal is illegal under Virginia’s implied consent laws and you could face a license suspension. If your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, you can be arrested for drunk driving.
If this happens to you, it is imperative you consult with an experienced Virginia drunk driving attorney right away. At the Wilson law Firm, we carefully review the behavior and actions of law enforcement at DUI checkpoints in Virginia. If your rights were violated in any way, we may be able to help you get charges dropped or get a not-guilty verdict by keeping illegally collected evidence from being used against you.
Contact a Virginia DUI Defense Attorney Today
The stakes are high in DUI cases, and you need to have an advocate looking out for you if you face arrest at a Virginia DUI checkpoint. You may risk going to jail, losing your license, paying fines and facing a criminal record. The experienced attorneys at the Wilson Law Firm will fight to help you avoid these serious consequences.
Arrested for drunk driving at a DUI checkpoint in Virginia? The Wilson Law Firm is here to help you understand Virginia DUI Checkpoint Laws. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation today.