Driving under the influence (DUI) arrests occur due to individual infractions. Someone drives poorly or causes a crash, so police officers test them for chemical impairment. Other times, multiple people may be arrested in a very short period through mass enforcement efforts.
One of the more common ways that police departments try to catch multiple people in a short time span for DUI offenses involves setting up a DUI checkpoint or sobriety roadblock. Are those checkpoints legal in Tennessee?
Defendants have historically attempted to avoid prosecution for a DUI offense by questioning the actions of law enforcement officers. Rulings by federal courts have established that checkpoints are not inherently a violation of someone’s constitutional rights.
Tennessee has rules for checkpoints
Limitations on checkpoints generally exist on a state-by-state basis. In Tennessee, police departments can conduct checkpoints as long as they have the proper paperwork in place and adhere to best practices. In fact, the state typically provides advance public notice of checkpoints.
Police must operate checkpoints with a single enforcement interest in mind. While some checkpoints screen people to see if they have valid licenses or are wearing seatbelts, the majority focus on checking people’s sobriety. They can only screen individuals for a brief amount of time and may only detain those who show signs of impairment or who admit to consuming more alcohol than would be appropriate given their size, gender and health.
Those arrested for DUI at a checkpoint still have options for defending against the charges they face. Reviewing the state’s evidence with a legal professional can be a good starting point for those hoping to fight a DUI charge in Tennessee.