DUI Sobriety Checkpoints
Law enforcement agencies throughout New Hampshire regularly use sobriety checkpoints, or DUI roadblocks to detect and deter people from driving while intoxicated. Although many New Hampshire citizens believe DUI roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints are a violation of their Constitutional rights and are an illegal search, the United States Supreme Court held in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), that the sobriety checkpoint in question did not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. Local police must obtain judicial permission for a sobriety checkpoint and it must be conducted according to certain specifications.
In New Hampshire, sobriety checkpoints must be conducted in a constitutionally permissible manner following a specific set of “guidelines”. These guidelines relate to such matters including the preparation, location, pre-checkpoint publicity, and operation of the sobriety checkpoint. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a published report which recommends a set protocol for the operation of sobriety roadblocks. And, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has disseminated guidelines for New Hampshire law enforcement agencies to follow when conducting a sobriety checkpoint.
All drivers passing through a checkpoint must stop and be indiscriminately asked a few routine questions. When a driver approaches a sobriety checkpoint, he or she will be immediately asked to produce his or her license and registration. The driver will then generally be asked about his origination or destination, whether he had been drinking, and if there is any alcohol or drugs in the car. Some states have officers approach your vehicle with a flashlight that is equipped with a passive alcohol sensor. If an officer has reason to suspect that the driver had been drinking or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver will immediately be asked to step from the vehicle to perform a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. The driver will usually be asked to also submit to a breath or blood test, which test is often conducted in the New Hampshire DUI Mobile Command Center, which will be stationed at or near the sobriety checkpoint. The command center vehicle is equipped with an Intoxilyzer 5000 which is an industry standard breath alcohol analysis instrument. Our attorneys are professionally trained in all aspects of maintaining, calibrating, and evaluating the results of this equipment. If the field testing and breath or blood alcohol tests conclude you are under the influence you will be charged and taken into custody. The consequences of a DUI can be costly and long-lasting. Fines, jail time, motor vehicle insurance premium increases, and your criminal record indicating an offense for at least ten years will all have an effect on your life.
If you or someone you love has been arrested for DUI or DWI in New Hampshire involving a sobriety checkpoint, do not hesitate to contact a NH DUI lawyer who understands sobriety checkpoint defense. At Tenn And Tenn, P.A. Our DWI attorneys strive to best the best dui lawyers in NH. Our litigation skills, professional equipment training, and legal defense experience could make or break your future situation. Please call us today at 1-888-511-1010 for a free telephone consultation of your DUI or DWI case.