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Understanding Sobriety Checkpoints

There is a number of different tactics law enforcement officers use for catching individuals who drive under the influence of drug or alcohol (DUI). One of those tactics is the sobriety checkpoint, which is also known as the DUI checkpoint. These are designated locations where officers stop vehicles to check drivers for signs of impairment. Sobriety checkpoints are often used extensively around major holidays, especially those for which drinking is customary, such as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Officers also use these anti-DUI tactics on other occasions as well. There are many ways to challenge arrests that arise from sobriety checkpoints with the help of a strong DUI attorney.

Sobriety checkpoints are conducted in Arizona by law enforcement agencies and by DUI task forces that operate throughout the state. It is important to remember that law enforcement officers are required to follow certain requirements when they conduct checkpoint stops. Officers are generally required to use some type of formula when deciding how they will stop vehicles, such as by stopping every third vehicle. They are usually required to provide advanced public notices that they will be holding the checkpoints, and they are also typically required to ensure that the checkpoints are clearly visible to drivers. Drivers who are stopped at these checkpoints could be asked to submit to field sobriety testing and on-the-spot breath testing, especially if they exhibit signs of impairment (such as erratic driving or the smell of alcohol). The results of these tests can be used to make arrests and file DUI charges against drivers.

Sobriety checkpoints have become the subject of various legal battles. This is because many believe that the process violates drivers' rights under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—an amendment that protects against unreasonable search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment stipulates that there must be probable cause (or a clear reason to believe a person was engaging in unlawful activity) in order for a search or arrest to occur. Due to the fact that many people pulled over in DUI checkpoints are not initially stopped due to actual signs of impairment, some argue that these procedures infringe on individuals' Constitutional rights. In fact, certain states have even prohibited DUI checkpoints for this very reason.

Because sobriety checkpoints walk such a fine line of legality, one mistake by a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency in the checkpoint or arrest process can lead to significant challenges in court. These challenges, made by the driver's DUI attorney, can potentially lead to charges being dismissed. The Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC's Phoenix DUI lawyer fully understands what it takes to effectively challenge allegations of impaired driving, as he has handled many different types of DUI cases as both a DUI defense attorney and as a prosecutor.

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