Sobriety Checkpoint

Kansas DUI Checkpoints

DUI check points, called sobriety checkpoints, are temporary roadblocks, set up by local law enforcement to assess suspects for drunk driving. These temporary DUI roadblocks, are used to catch drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Originally, these kind of roadblocks were used for roadside safety checks and license inspections. Now, these sobriety checkpoints are often set up late at night or early in the morning, when the highest percentage of drunk drivers is on the road.

What exactly is a DUI checkpoint and what exactly happens at them? Police either stop every single vehicle or use a specific pattern to stop certain automobiles. Even before the vehicle is stopped, the investigation to determine if the drivers is impaired began. The first thing that is being determined is whether the driver is able to navigate his vehicle safely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) refers to this as the "Vehicle in Motion" Stage.

After the vehicle is stopped, the officer begins the conversation with the potential suspect. During this stages, the officer is trying to pick up on further clues, such as odor of alcohol, slurred speech, confusion, ability to locate license and registration, admissions to drinking, or other signs of impairment. The officer may even ask to search your car. Since they are asking, they probably don't have legal grounds to search your car, and you may refuse this request.

Based on the officer's supposed observed clues, you may be ordered to get out of your vehicle. At this point there will surely be a video camera somewhere recording everything. The officer will ask you to perform several field sobriety tests, which you may refuse. These tests include the walk and turn, HGN, and One Leg Stand. If you refuse to take these tests, the officer will have one less piece of evidence against you. The officer will then likely ask you to take a portable breath alcohol test to determine your blood alcohol content level. You can refuse this test, but the consequences for refusing it are likely that you will be arrested as it supposedly provides sufficient probable cause. Refusing to take the PBT is a mere traffic infraction though, that carries with it a fine of about $170. Usually, as a DUI attorney, I want my clients to take the PBT for numerous reasons including: the results generally are inadmissible at trial, the officers often fail to with the requite amount of time prior to administering it, and it can give you some guidance as to whether you should take the actual Intoxilyzer Breath Test that is admissible in trial. While you can refuse to take the actual Intoxilyzer, the consequences of refusing this are quite extreme, and your refusal is admissible in trial. While the Intoxilyzer 8000 is generally administered at the police station, after the arrest, the machine may be brought out to the actual DUI checkpoint since there will likely be many arrests and breath tests. While not as likely, the officer may request a UA or blood test.

There is some argument about whether or not roadblocks actually work to reduce the number of drunk drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded, after numerous field studies, that the number of DUI arrests made by roving patrols is nearly three times the average number of DUI arrests made by officers at a sobriety checkpoint. However, police officers believe that roadblocks are effective, even if drunk drivers get around them, because they show the public that driving under the influence is not tolerated. Additionally, the location of the roadblocks is posted ahead of time to help deter drunk driving.

Also, as a DUI lawyer, I have noticed that DUI checkpoints seem to be a prime training ground for rookie patrol officers. This can potentially be good news for your DUI case. Overland Park, KS especially seems to utilize DUI checkpoints.