Your Rights at a Sobriety Checkpoint

Our Denver DUI Attorney Explains the Laws

Sobriety checkpoints are roadblocks set up by law enforcement for the purpose of identifying those individuals who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At the checkpoints, vehicles are instructed by the police to pass through one at a time, and the officers will be focused on identifying any person who is driving in a suspicious manner or who appears to be impaired.

The officers will also question drivers to observe how they behave or react. There are rules the police must follow regarding which cars they stop to question. DUI penalties for anyone arrested at a sobriety checkpoint, and subsequently convicted of DUI, could be facing jail, the driver's license suspension, fines, as well as mandated treatment programs and community service requirements. If you have been arrested for DUI at a sobriety checkpoint, it's important you contact a DUI defense attorney in Denver as soon as possible. Just because you were arrested does not automatically mean you are guilty.

Guidelines for Operating a Sobriety Checkpoint

The following are the basic guidelines that regulate sobriety checkpoints in order that law enforcement does not discriminate regarding which drivers they stop and question and which ones they wave through the checkpoint:

  • Strictly following policy regarding standard procedure for roadblocks;
  • Every driver is must be treated equally;
  • There are no arbitraries regarding which vehicles are stopped (type of car etc.);
  • There is no discrimination against any driver with regard to race, age, sex, etc.

Under the standard of treating every driver/vehicle the same, police decide prior to starting the roadblock what sequence will be used for stopping a vehicle, such as stopping every car, or every third car, or similar procedure. There will be an authorizing order for the establishment of the roadblock, and the procedure to be implemented will be noted on the order.

However, during the checkpoint procedure, the standard being used can be changed. If the police were stopping every other car, they could change it to every car, or every fourth car, etc. The change must be documented with the reason why. Some examples of common reasons to change the sequence are:

  • Bad weather
  • Traffic jams
  • Changes in the number of personnel

It also must show what time the change was made and what was the altered sequence for stopping vehicles.

What can the police do at a roadblock?

Any driver selected by law enforcement for a sobriety check can expect the officer to lean into the car through the driver's window in order to attempt detect any odors from alcohol or drugs. The officer will also ask the driver if he or she has consumed any alcohol or drugs. During the questioning, the officer will be checking whether there the smell alcohol or drugs on the driver's breath, if his speech is slurred, open containers of alcoholic beverages, or if the driver's motor skills seem too slow. The officer will also observe whether or not the driver's eyes are bloodshot, glassy, or excessively watering.

Any suspicion of intoxication by the police officer will trigger blood tests and field sobriety tests. If he or she fails the tests, there will be an immediate arrest for DUI.

Get the Help You Need. Contact Attorney Chris Cessna!

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, it's imperative to consult with a highly trained DUI lawyer practicing in Denver. Mr. Cessna at the Law Office of Christopher H. Cessna is a successful, experienced DUI attorney. He works diligently to uncover any violations that may have occurred at the roadblock or with any field sobriety tests, breath tests, and other procedures, including possible rights violations. These matters could result in reduced charges or dismissal of the case.

Connect with his firm today to find out how he can protect you and your rights.