Nearly 6,000 DUI arrests took place in Illinois in 2020. While the simple solution might be to avoid getting behind the wheel in the first place, judgement becomes hindered after having a few drinks and mistakes happen. In the unfortunate instance that you are pulled over during a DUI checkpoint, the sense that you’ve made a massive mistake, and have possibly earned a DUI license suspension, will start to set in.
However, there is a fair and important discussion on DUI checkpoints and how they might be unconstitutional by violating the rights of those involved. It boils down to the Fourth Amendment in the United States Constitution.
Let’s discuss the validity of DUI checkpoints and whether or not they violate your Fourth Amendment rights in the Elgin area.
What is the Fourth Amendment?
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution refers to the unreasonable search and seizure of personal property by the government. This doesn't account for an appropriate means of searching and seizing property.
There are two sides to every situation where this comes into play. First, the intrusion of privacy, and next, the violation of rights versus the safety of the general public. There are a few instances where this intrusion of your constitutional rights can be impeded on:
- Current traffic violations
- Increase in criminal activity in the area
- Routine stops at the international borders
- Highway sobriety/DUI checkpoints
Your constitutional rights won't negate the safety of the general public. If there is an area of highway or a roadway where there's been an increase of DUI accidents and subsequent DUI arrests, the state may feel that being proactive is the best way to prevent further incidents.
It's safe to say that most people would rather a slight inconvenience of going through a DUI checkpoint while sober, rather than ending up the victim of a drunk driving incident.
Does a DUI Checkpoint Violate a Constitutional Right?
Despite this argument that the "unreasonable search and seizure" protection becomes violated, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that it's not a violation of basic human rights back in 1990. It's more of a means of protecting other motorists from drunk drivers in areas where DUI arrests are higher in volume.
The Supreme Court, however, also allowed states to decide whether or not they'd allow roadblocks. The eleven states that outlawed DUI checkpoints in this capacity are:
- Rhode Island
Residents of the remaining 39 states are subject to DUI checkpoints at any given time. As long as the DUI checkpoint meets certain criteria, the Fourth Amendment is not considered as violated. In Illinois, the Department of Transportation requires that authorities:
- Publicize the checkpoints ahead of time
- Must have a plan of operation
- Only run checkpoints for reasonable lengths of time
Other requirements for amendment compliance might include:
- The decision for checkpoint made by a supervisory law enforcement official
- Neutral criteria in place to determine which vehicles get stopped
- Safety measures in place to keep motorists and officers safe
- Locations based on high volumes of recurring DUIs
- Good judgement in when, and for how long, checkpoints shall last
- Detainment lasting long enough for answers and signs for drunk driving checked
- Announcement of checkpoints ahead of time
The announcement is meant to advertise the date and time. It doesn't have to include the location; however, they are likely to take place in areas where DUI incidents occur.
It's once these guidelines are disregarded that the unconstitutional issue comes into play. If there is no reason to run a DUI checkpoint in a certain area, or if certain individuals are being unfairly pulled over, it becomes a violation of the American citizens' most basic human rights.
What Should You Do During a DUI Checkpoint in the Elgin Area?
When you get stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you must remember your rights.
First and foremost, you have the right to remain silent. It's important to remember to be courteous and honest. The only information you have to provide is your driver's license and your proof of auto insurance.
You don't have to answer any questions. You don't have to submit to a breathalyzer test, though you might end up with a suspension on your license.
You are also allowed to avoid a DUI if you can do so without violating additional traffic laws. For example, if there is an alleyway or an area along the road where you can legally perform a U-turn, you can do so. Be wary though that there could be additional law enforcement officials in the area patrolling for possible drunk drivers.
Your best option when it comes to avoiding a DUI arrest during a routine checkpoint is to take responsibility and plan a way home that doesn't involve getting behind the wheel and driving while impaired. John M. Quinn & Associates can help you to get your driver's license reinstated. We can also help to defend your case when your rights have been violated.
DUI Checkpoints in Elgin
If you find yourself under arrest during a DUI checkpoint, you need to get in touch with your lawyer as soon as possible. Your basic rights as an American citizen may have been violated. The sooner you consult with your attorney, the better results you may see in your case.
Contact the Law Offices of John M. Quinn & Associates for more information on the laws regarding DUI checkpoints. We look forward to working with you, as we don't want to see you facing charges for crimes where your basic human rights were violated in the process.