Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Arizona?
Arizona is one of 38 states which utilize DUI checkpoints to locate and arrest intoxicated drivers. While some states believe these checkpoints violate their Fourth Amendment rights of illegal search and seizure, Arizona continues to randomly coordinate these sobriety checkpoints.
We’ve put together a primer for those who frequent Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Scottsdale and all of Arizona in hopes to avoid being stopped and detained illegally. Note that driving while intoxicated charges are serious in this state, so avoid doing this when possible.
How DUI checkpoints work
Law enforcement will choose one or several days, normally during holidays or weekends where heavier than normal traffic is expected, and setup roadblocks in cooperation with local, county and state police. As vehicles approach these barricades, officers will ask for identification and visually inspect the demeanor of the driver. From there, they can ascertain whether further tests are needed, or if the driver may pass without incident.
Those suspected of drunk driving will be given standard field sobriety testing to determine level of intoxication. From there, drivers will normally be arrested, while passengers may be released if rides are arranged.
For decades, lawmakers and citizens have battled the constitutionality of these tests. Thankfully, since these laws must exist, ways to fight back exist as well.
Where are the dui checkpoints in Arizona?
Since stopping interstate traffic proves too difficult for law enforcement, most checkpoints are conducted on highways and major intersections in town. However, knowing people do anything to avoid DUI checkpoints, expect some to spring up on side roads.
Most all DUI checkpoints Arizona law enforcement officials launch will be illuminated, with cones directing traffic in both directions. Several policemen will be on scene, with one to two conducting questioning and others performing the field tests.
Unless police are running an “operation”, DUI checkpoints are rarely announced.
What rights do I have?
Upon approaching DUI checkpoints, drivers are afforded certain rights in accordance with Arizona law. For example, drivers:
- Do not have to perform breathalyzer tests, although refusing to take part may violate other laws which may leave drivers open to arrest;
- Request a warrant or probable cause affidavit prior to having their car searched provided reasonable suspicion doesn’t exist yet the officer chooses to search anyway;
- Can remain silent. If one chooses to speak, maintaining a normal tone of voice and not arguing could spare obstruction of justice charges; and
- Can request the presence of attorney prior to speaking to law enforcement. This could be important if the officer has not informed the driver of their rights to refuse testing.
Note that refusing to submit to chemical testing may require the driver to forfeit their driving privileges for twelve (12) months.
Arizona DUI laws are tough. Be tougher.
Many argue that Arizona treats driving under the influence as harshly as murder. For one, penalties are stiff starting with your first offense, and gradually increase until you’re unable to drive – ever. Then, add the fact DUI charges can be vacated only if procedural errors are found during the arrest or trial. Couple that with the amount of money offenders must fork over, and DUIs become overwhelming rather quickly.
Drivers who are stuck at sobriety checkpoints should comply with law enforcement requests, provided doing so doesn’t violate one’s constitutional rights. If at any moment drivers feel uncomfortable answering questions or performing tests, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights is plausible.
Looking to avoid DUI checkpoints in Arizona tonight? Don’t feel like letting law enforcement rummage through your vehicle? You have rights when pulled over. If you’re unsure of these rights, phone a DUI attorney immediately to learn about them, then retain their services.
Click here for more information on sobriety checkpoints in Arizona.