The DUI Checkpoints Debate — Is it Constitutional and What Are Your Rights?

Wilson, Howser and Oliver explain your constitutional rights at a DUI checkpoint. We’ve all seen the Youtube videos, news stories, and websites dedicated to describing why DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional. While these videos and articles can be intriguing, and sometimes even frightening, are checkpoints truly violating your constitutional rights? Many state that these checkpoints distinctly violate our 4th Amendment rights. The 4th Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” According to the state of Tennessee, and the United States Supreme Court, DUI checkpoints do not violate the 4th Amendment. Based upon the Supreme Court case, Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, and Tennessee case, State of Tennessee v. Downey, the intent of keeping drunk drivers off of the road outweighs the slight intrusion and hindrance of residents. In fact, the State of Tennessee considers checkpoints legal if the event is properly operated and supervised with the intent to minimize risk of arbitrary intrusion on individuals and limit the discretion of law enforcement at the scene.

What to Do at a DUI Checkpoint

If you are not under the influence of alcohol or another illegal substance, you have nothing to worry about. Simply follow the instructions of the police officer and be polite. On the other hand, if you are suspected of or arrested for being under an influence, you can use the following tips throughout the process. All DUI lawyers should provide the same advice:
  • Be courteous to the officer you are speaking with.
  • Proactively exercise your right to remain silent.
  • Do not consent to a search of your vehicle.
  • You have the right to refuse participation or performance in field sobriety tests.
  • If you decide to consent to a blood draw, remember to request an independent blood sample. Wilson, Howser and Oliver is able to get your sample tested by an independent toxicology lab.
If you are arrested for DUI at a checkpoint in Tennessee, this does not mean that you do not have a defense to this charge. A variety of considerations, circumstances, and legalities can apply to your situation, which can help your case. Wilson, Howser and Oliver specialize in providing justice for Murfreesboro, TN with wrongful or unjust DUI charges. To learn more, we invite you to stop by our Murfreesboro office right on the Square, or call (615) 895-0030