1700 7th Avenue, Suite 2100, Seattle, Washington 98101
The Best in Traffic, DUI and Criminal Defense
Available 24/7 For a FREE Consultation (206) 729-3477

DUI “Checkpoints”-Not in Our State

Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most of us have been in that situation before…we are driving down the road and suddenly we see flashing lights in our mirror. Next is the sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach as we look for a place to pull over and hope our vehicle registration is current. But when this happens, our men or women in blue must have a reason to light you up and assert this authority. And we know what they are…speeding, expired tabs or other infraction, or something more serious like Reckless Driving.

Officers regulate traffic, advise motorists of hazards, investigate crime scenes, make arrests, anything else that is within the course of their duties as a law enforcement officer. But as agents of the State, police officers’ actions are governed in part by the US and Washington State Constitutions. Any action or restriction imposed upon us by law enforcement must be reasonable and constitutional.
We have a right as citizens to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. “Unreasonable” has been held to mean without “probable cause” or a legal basis to conduct a stop. For example, a police officer can stop you for speeding and write you a ticket. A police officer can stop a driver if he observes signs of intoxication while driving. A police officer cannot, however, stop a driver to simply check and make sure all is well. Officer Jones cannot pull one over for no other reason but to see “if” the driver “might” be showing signs of impairment.

Other jurisdictions that have tried these “DUI roadblocks” have run into constitutional challenges. A federal appeals court recently halted a sweeping set of changes to the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping and frisking people on the street, and in strikingly personal terms, criticized the trial judge’s conduct and removed her from the case.

Any discussion of trying to implement such “check points” in our state must always be met with absolute resistance. Our freedoms and privacies we currently enjoy must be protected, even simply driving down the street minding our own business. Once we give those up, we might never get them back.

Latest From the Blog…

5/4/2022 – For Motorcyclists, Be Safe and Be Legal read more…