FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-10
Colorado residents may have encountered a DUI checkpoint before, but according to a recent University of Maryland study, DUI checkpoints are not as effective as they were thought to be. The study finds that the checkpoints often fail to make any drunk driving arrests even though many drivers are pulled over and tested. The study also found that the checkpoints do not typically change driver behaviors.
A DUI checkpoint is a point on the road established by officers who then pull over either every vehicle or a certain pattern of vehicles. They are typically set up on the roads during late night or early morning hours when more drunk drivers are likely to be on the road. At a checkpoint, an officer may ask to search a car. The driver of the car does not have to allow the officer to do this, unless the officer discovers there are legal grounds to search the car.
Sobriety testing issues
When a police officer suspect a driver has been drinking, he or she usually performs a field sobriety test. This test usually involves hand-eye coordination or somewhat complex brain function to see if the person shows any signs of being drunk. If the officer observes enough signs to believe there are legal grounds, he or she can ask the driver to take a breath alcohol test to measure the driver’s blood alcohol content level. These tests can be refused, but doing so can often result in harsh penalties. Once an officer has probable cause that the driver is driving drunk, he or she makes the arrest.
A better suggested method for catching drunk drivers is having roving patrols on the roads. According to state Supreme Court cases, these patrols catch 10 times as many drunk drivers as any checkpoint does. The roving patrols can also stop drivers for other violations such as speeding and distracted driving.
The importance of a good lawyer
No one should have to face a DUI charge on his or her own — especially if the arrest occurred as a result of a DUI checkpoint. Officers can make mistakes during a checkpoint, which can result in a person being incorrectly arrested or charged with other crimes. Experienced criminal defense attorneys in Colorado are able to protect their clients and ensure that any mistake made on the part of law enforcement officials is acknowledged. In addition, there are many potentially serious consequences of a DUI charge, so it is that much more important that a person accused gets the best representation possible.