June 30, 2021 | DUI
Unconstitutional DUI stops in Northern Kentucky can occur in one of two ways. A police officer may pull you over without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The second type of unconstitutional stop might occur at a DUI checkpoint.
If you believe that your DUI stop violated your constitutional rights, you need a DUI defense lawyer to investigate the matter. Unconstitutional DUI stops could result in your drunk driving charges being dismissed, including first time DUI offenses and felony DUI offenses.
The Use of DUI Checkpoints in Northern Kentucky
DUI checkpoints became very popular in the United States in the 1980s.
However, a Michigan resident filed a lawsuit claiming that the use of DUI checkpoints was unconstitutional. The lawsuit alleged that the checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment. The decision was based on the requirement for officers to have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. Because vehicles were stopped at the checkpoint without any specific suspicion, the court ruled that the DUI checkpoints were illegal.
The decision was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court ruled that properly conducted safety checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment. However, stopping a car at a roadblock constituted a seizure, so the court ruled that the checkpoint must be “reasonable” to be constitutional.
Therefore, roadblocks in Kentucky set up to identify ordinary criminal activity might be unconstitutional. However, if the purpose of the checkpoint is to maintain safe roads, the DUI roadblocks are legal so long as they are “reasonable.”
What is Considered a Reasonable DUI Checkpoint in Northern Kentucky?
The Kentucky Supreme Court has answered this question. It outlined four factors used to determine if a DUI checkpoint is constitutional.
Those four factors are:
- Important decisions regarding the location, time, and procedures for the checkpoint should be made by supervisory officers. Patrol or field officers should not make these decisions, and locations must not affect the public’s safety. The locations should have a reasonable relationship to the law enforcement purpose for the checkpoint.
- Officers who conduct the checkpoint must comply with the procedures set by supervisory officers. The procedures should ensure that each motorist is treated in the same manner. Field officers should not have discretion as to which vehicles to stop.
- The purpose of the roadblock should be apparent to motorists approaching the roadblock. For example, officers may be in uniform with marked patrol cars. Warning signs may also be used to indicate a roadblock is ahead.
- Motorists should not be detained longer than necessary. They should only be stopped long enough to perform a cursory examination for signs of impairment or to check the driver’s license and registration. If an officer has reasonable suspicion the driver has broken the law, the officer may then ask the driver to pull to the side. At that point, the officer may conduct a breath test or field sobriety test.
There are many ways that a DUI checkpoint could be challenged. For example, an officer could have stopped your vehicle out of sequence (i.e., they were stopping every third vehicle, but you were the second vehicle).
A skilled DUI defense lawyer can review the procedures and circumstances surrounding the DUI checkpoint to determine if the checkpoint violated your legal rights.
Unconstitutional DUI Traffic Stops in Northern Kentucky
Police officers may also violate your legal rights by conducting an unconstitutional DUI traffic stop.
Before a police officer can pull you over for a traffic stop, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or are in the process of committing a crime. In a DUI case, the officer must have a reasonable belief that you are driving under the influence.
In most cases, the police officer claims that he witnessed erratic driving behavior suggesting you might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Behaviors that might give an officer reasonable cause for a DUI traffic stop include:
- Weaving in and out of your lane
- Driving too slowly for the conditions
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Stopping for a green light
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Failing to turn on headlights after dark
Without dashcam video, it often comes down to the motorist’s testimony versus the police officer’s testimony.
However, there could be situations in which evidence proves that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop. If so, the evidence against you could be inadmissible in court.
As with a DUI checkpoint, it is wise to discuss your case with a DUI defense attorney before pleading guilty or accepting a plea agreement. If the traffic stop or checkpoint was unconstitutional, the DUI charges against you could be dismissed by the court.
Contact the Cincinnati DUI Lawyers at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202