Over 25 Years of Criminal Defense Experience

Are sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks legal in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2023 | Drunk Driving

Someone who is arrested for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense in Illinois may have questions about the legality of their situation. Sometimes, the most effective components of someone’s defense strategy directly relate to the misconduct of police officers. Although those upholding the law in Illinois have thorough training on what they can and cannot do, they will often bend or break those rules in their eagerness to arrest the people they suspect of criminal activity. Those missteps can then inform a defendant’s legal strategy.

For example, some people develop criminal defense strategies by questioning an officer’s conduct during a one-on-one traffic stop or after a car crash. Others may question the legitimacy of their arrest because it occurred during a mass enforcement effort.

Checkpoints are theoretically legal in Illinois

People have long questioned whether checkpoints that stop every motorist are a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. The federal Supreme Court has affirmed the legality of sobriety checkpoints in the past. Any provisions against roadblocks exist on a state-by-state basis.

Illinois does not prohibit police officers from conducting checkpoints but does impose relatively strict standards on any large-scale enforcement efforts. For example, police officers have to have a specific intention, such as screening people for impairment during a high-risk time, as opposed to a desire to stop as many vehicles as possible.

They will also need to adhere to established best practices for the checkpoint to yield any prosecutable arrests. Small violations of the law can potentially affect the ability of prosecutors to use the evidence obtained during a sobriety checkpoint.

Checkpoints don’t yield the most reliable evidence

There is a popular saying that every problem looks like a nail when someone has a hammer. Involvement in a sobriety checkpoint makes officers more likely to associate certain behavior with chemical intoxication than they otherwise would, especially because they want to have a high arrest rate to show that the investment of resources was worthwhile.

Frequently, those arrested at sobriety checkpoints will want to go carefully over maintenance and calibration records for breath test devices and the details of the state’s evidence against them. It may be possible to question the accuracy of the evidence or provide alternate explanations that officers may have overlooked given their eagerness to arrest as many people as possible.

Learning more about the rules that apply to the most common situations that end with a DUI arrest may help drivers in Illinois safeguard against frivolous arrests and unfair criminal charges. Seeking informed legal guidance is a good way to gain this kind of clarity.