Every year, many people in Ouachita Parish and throughout the entire state face charges of driving under the influence (DUI). Often, people are charged after a police officer has stopped someone after observing dangerous behavior, such as a driver who is swerving in and out of lanes. However, that is not the only way in which people find themselves facing these charges.
Many people find themselves charged with a DUI after they have approached a sobriety checkpoint stop. Unlike a traffic stop, for which police officers must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence, sobriety checkpoints do not require this same legal standard to be met. This means that a person may be charged even when they did not exhibit dangerous behaviors. So, are sobriety checkpoints legal in Louisiana? Our Ouachita Parish DUI lawyer explains more below.
What is a Sobriety Checkpoint?
A sobriety checkpoint is a designated area law enforcement uses to stop motorists at designated intervals. Once a motorist is stopped at a checkpoint, a police officer will then ask them questions while looking for signs of intoxication, such as alcohol on the breath or slurred speech. When these signs are observed, the officer will likely pursue DUI charges. Sobriety checkpoints are meant to act as a deterrent, encouraging motorists to only drive when sober.
Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Ouachita Parish?
Sobriety checkpoints are legal in 38 states, and Louisiana is included in them. The constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints has largely been debated. Still, no lawsuit challenging them in the Supreme Court has ever been successful. Although the state and federal courts continue to recognize the legality of sobriety checkpoints, they must be conducted properly and in a lawful manner. Conducting a legal sobriety checkpoint requires law enforcement to plan the checkpoint ahead of time, ensure the checkpoints are well-publicized and clearly marked, and police officers can only stop vehicles at predetermined time intervals.
Are Sobriety Checkpoints Effective at Reducing Drunk Driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sobriety checkpoints can reduce drunk driving accidents by up to 20 percent. Other studies have found that while the checkpoints are effective, they are more so when the checkpoints are conducted in areas with high traffic, such as downtown areas and in cities.
Unfortunately, due to the very nature of these stops, and the fact that police officers are not required to have reasonable suspicion to stop drivers, there is also an increased chance of innocent individuals being charged with a DUI after a stop. An Ouachita Parish DUI lawyer can help individuals beat their charges and keep their freedom, and their driver’s license.
Call Our DUI Lawyer in Ouachita Parish for Help with Your Case
If you were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and are now facing DUI charges, you need strong legal representation. At Whiddon Criminal Defense, our Ouachita Parish DUI lawyer can craft the solid defense you need that will give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us now at 318-594-3592 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.