Everyone knows that drunk driving is illegal. If you are caught with an unlawful bodily alcohol content or exhibit signs of intoxication while driving, the police can arrest you for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). However, in order for an DUI investigation to begin, there must be a valid traffic stop. DUI Checkpoints are a way law enforcement ensure they have a valid traffic stop.
What does this mean? It means that you must have violated a section of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code. Alternatively, if your driving alerts the police officer that you cannot safely operate a motor vehicle, you may be pulled over. For instance, you may be swerving within your lane or driving at fluctuating speeds.
Typically, an officer will claim that you were speeding or failed to maintain your lane. However, some states have an extra level of law enforcement on the road ways by utilizing DUI Checkpoints.
What Are DUI Checkpoints?
A DUI checkpoint, or sobriety checkpoint, is a tool that police departments use to check for sobriety. The police close off a portion of the road, requiring drivers to speak with an officer to ensure they are not intoxicated. In United States Supreme Court Case Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990), the Court ruled that they are constitutional.
While they are not as common as they once were, DUI checkpoints are still used in other states such as Rhode Island and Maine. However, Michigan has decided that they violate the Fourth Amendment, thus making them illegal in the state. The Fourth Amendment guarantees freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
If you are forced to speak with an officer, this interaction can be deemed a seizure. Considering the DUI checkpoint requires every driver to be “seized,” this is unreasonable. Michigan has held firm that the use of DUI checkpoints is illegal.
How the Police Gets Around This
However, this does not mean that Michigan police officers are not setting up their own “checkpoints.” For example, you can be sure that police are stationed outside of bars/clubs around 1:30am. “Last call” in a bar means that no further alcohol will be sold, so most patrons head to their cars.
Officers will assume you are intoxicated if you are leaving an establishment that sells alcohol at that hour. Police will often watch you leave the bar to see if you are stumbling or lacking coordination.
They will continue to follow you until they have a reason to pull you over, which might be:
- no turn signal,
- cutting someone off, etc.
Although no “checkpoint” was established, both local and state police will use these tactics to get around the law.
An Uber is Cheaper than a DUI
The police will use any slight mistake to pull you over and arrest you. The safest way to avoid an OWI is to call an Uber or Lyft. Although you may think you are a great driver, no drunk driver is a good driver.
While there may not be an official DUI checkpoint on your route home, there will surely be an officer waiting for you to slip up. Don’t risk your future.
Christopher Urban graduated from Oakland University in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. In addition to graduating Summa Cum Laude, Chris was awarded the Donald I. Warren Award for Academic Excellence throughout his time at the university. Upon graduation, Chris began working as Mr. Morris’ driver for court appointments to gain experience before law school. Chris was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Full Tuition Scholarship to Wayne State University. During his time in law school, Chris was a member of the Wayne State Law Mock Trial Team, being named Vice-Chairman his third year. He also worked in the Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic through Karmanos Cancer Center, providing legal services to low income individuals with cancer.
Chris brings a wealth of experience to the firm. He has performed numerous “ride-alongs” with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Sterling Heights Police Department. In addition, he was an intern at the Detroit DEA Field Office. Finally, he is a published author (Sexual Victimization: Then and Now. ISBN 978-1483308173). Chris has attended the NHTSA Field Sobriety Test Seminar and the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) seminar.
Christopher is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). Chris is one of a select few attorneys in Michigan to be a part of this prestigious college. He has attended the Summer Seminar at Harvard Law School, which focused specifically on OWI defense trial tactics. Moreover, he is preparing to become board certified as an OWI attorney. The NCDD holds the only specialty certifying test in DUI Law under the American Bar Association.