Police officers have an interest in removing intoxicated drivers from the road. However, in trying to locate and arrest potentially drunk drivers, police officers must respect the rights of all motorists. Thus, police officers can only stop a vehicle under certain circumstances. For the most part, an officer must observe some indicia of dangerous driving or intoxication to stop a vehicle for suspicion of DUI.
A DUI checkpoint would seem to be contrary to this general rule. However, Arizona DUI checkpoints have been held to be legal if they are properly conducted. For example, courts have held that a checkpoint must be “carried out pursuant to a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitations on the conduct of individual officers.” One reason for this is that police could easily use a checkpoint as a pretext for racially motivated traffic stops. Thus, by removing the discretion from individual officers, courts believe that it is less likely an officer’s personal biases will affect whether a motorist is stopped.
What Are a Motorists’ Rights in a DUI Checkpoint?
When a motorist is stopped at a DUI checkpoint, an officer will approach the vehicle and begin to ask the driver questions. Generally, a motorist will be asked to provide the police officer with his driver’s license. It is important to remember that motorists do not need to engage in conversation with police officers, other than to provide necessary information. A motorist’s decision not to speak with an officer cannot be used as evidence of intoxication; however, by refusing to talk with an officer, the officer may become suspicious and decide to investigate further.