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Do you have to stop your vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint?

| May 27, 2021 | Dui/dwi Defense |

Drunk driving enforcement efforts by the police are both difficult and highly unsuccessful. Officers typically need to try to identify drunk drivers on a case-by-case basis and pull them over to conduct a series of tests before they can arrest that individual. 

The inefficient nature of impaired driving enforcement means that the police simply can’t catch everyone who gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink. One way that police departments try to expand their enforcement efforts and make the roads a bit safer is by creating sobriety checkpoints where they screen dozens of vehicles quickly. 

Do you have to stop if you encounter the sobriety checkpoint in Virginia?

You still have rights when the police erect a checkpoint

Driving is a privilege that overlaps with some of your other basic rights, like the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Sobriety checkpoints walk the fine line between appropriate enforcement and an invasion of an individual’s privacy. For a checkpoint to be valid, local law enforcement agencies have to be very careful about how they conduct themselves and ensure they have the right paperwork in place to carry out their operation. 

Even when law enforcement officers do everything perfectly, they can’t force you to drive forward through a checkpoint once you notice it. Provided that you spot the stopped traffic before you reach a point where you can no longer maneuver, there is no law prohibiting you from turning around or changing your route. However, the police may follow you or selectively stop you and claim that avoiding the checkpoint gave them reasonable suspicion of impairment. 

Knowing how to handle yourself when dealing with police officers individually or at a checkpoint can help you avoid unnecessary impaired driving charges.