Watch Out For DUI Checkpoints During Summer Holiday Weekends

Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Lawyer

Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyerSummer is officially here and many cities in the greater Chicago area have been ensuring these fun weekends are safe for everyone by conducting roadside checkpoints, also known as DUI roadblocks. The checkpoints require all passing cars to stop their vehicle and speak to an officer. Your legal rights at these checkpoints differ from those of a regular traffic stop, so it is important to know your rights and responsibilities when stopped, as well as if you have been arrested at a checkpoint for suspected driving under the influence.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

DUI checkpoints were authorized under Illinois law in 1985. The general rule for police stops or “search and seizures,” as such stops are recognized in federal constitutional parlance, is that a police officer needs at least “reasonable suspicion” to pull a person over and question them. Checkpoints are controversial because the officers do not need reasonable suspicion, but rather, will stop vehicles and question them without any suspicion at all. The United States Supreme Court held that DUI checkpoints are constitutional in Michigan v. Sitz, finding that their importance for the safety of drivers outweighs any possible inconvenience to drivers. There are many circumstances, however, where a checkpoint may be outside the bounds of the law and you may be entitled to a legal defense if you were arrested at such a stop. Consider:

  • Vehicles selected at the checkpoint stops must be random and be part of a sequence (police cannot arbitrarily decide to pull over a beat up car or a car driven by a person of a certain ethnicity or age- it must adhere to a pattern such as every other car or every fifth car).
  • Officers cannot perform sobriety/breathalyzer tests on every occupant of every vehicle. While the officers do not need reasonable suspicion to make you stop at a checkpoint, they do need reasonable suspicion to undertake those types of testing.
  • This is not a general crime prevention stop. Consider a fleeing bank robber who is on the run—officers generally cannot set up a roadblock and make cars stop to help find the escapee, though in certain extreme circumstances, this may be permissible.
  • Officers may be able to invoke the “plain view doctrine” on a checkpoint stop. This means that if you have drugs, alcohol, or contraband clearly visible at the time you are pulled over, the officers may seize the materials and arrest you even without a search warrant.

If the police fail to follow the specific rules for DUI checkpoints, your criminal charges may be dismissed. When police officers act outside of the bounds of the federal and/or state constitution, such as extending a checkpoint stop into an unlawful search, the state loses the right to use any collected evidence against you.

What If I Was Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint?

If you have been arrested at a traffic stop, you have legal rights. Illinois is one of few states that can compel a suspected intoxicated driver to take a blood test if they will not submit to a breathalyzer test on the road under the “no refusal” initiative by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, you are generally under no legal obligation to speak to an officer, submit to a sobriety test, or submit to a breathalyzer test. Beware of officers offering you “deals”—lessening charges, promising not to arrest you if you just take the test. These are non-enforceable promises that can be deemed as police misconduct. Police officers make the arrests—it is up to the prosecutors to decide whether charges are brought against you and if so, what those charges will be. Police do not have a say in that matter.

Contact Our Rolling Meadows, Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you find yourself facing criminal charges after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint, it is important to hire an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer right away. Once you are arrested, you have the right to speak with an attorney and whenever you are interrogated, you have the right to remain silent. Rolling Meadows attorney Donald J. Cosley will take the time to explain all of your legal options in a way that you understand. He will advocate for lesser charges, lighter sentencing, and dismissal of all charges when possible. Attorney Cosley works hard to ensure that one mistake will not define the rest of your life. To learn more about how to preserve your legal rights following an Illinois drunk driving charge, call (847) 253-3100 for a free consultation today.

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Northwest Suburban Bar Association

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Rolling Meadows Law Office

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At the Law Offices of Donald J. Cosley, we represent clients in Illinois, including the cities of Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Palatine, Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Elk Grove Village, Inverness, Wheeling, Long Grove and Mundelein, as well as Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County and throughout the Chicago, IL, metropolitan area.

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