Many have seen or come across a DUI checkpoint. Do you know your rights if you are forced to enter one? Did you know that you can challenge the legality of said checkpoints if you were arrested for DUI? Today we will discuss the requirements for DUI checkpoints in Charleston, South Carolina and what the state must show for the checkpoint and your DUI arrest to be legal.
Are DUI checkpoints legal in the state of South Carolina?
Yes, but they must comply with a very specific procedure to be considered lawful. When police set up a DUI checkpoint, you are seized, albeit briefly, triggering your rights under the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable government search and seizures.
Requirements for a DUI Checkpoint
Police cannot randomly set up a DUI checkpoint whenever or wherever they want. They must have a “stated purpose,” or the stop is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. In Brown v. Texas, our U.S. Supreme Court held that courts must balance three factors in determining the constitutionality of a checkpoint: The gravity of the public interest served by the seizure; The degree to which the seizure serves the public interests; and the severity of the interference with individual liberty.
Under the first factor, the checkpoint must be designed to insure roadway safety. The second factor requires the state to produce data to support the effectiveness of its roadblock. Failure to produce evidence will render the roadblock unconstitutional. In this case, a DUI lawyer would be necessary to review your DUI arrest from a DUI checkpoint since a lot of this information has to be requested specifically.
Requirements Specific to South Carolina
- Police should use a policy that addresses all aspects of the DUI checkpoints from officer training, equipment used, to media relations.
- Gather statistical data validating police action at the location in question.
- A specific plan regarding the actual checkpoint site, considering environmental issues, with safety being the priority in the construction of the checkpoint.
- The checkpoint should be visible as a police action. This meaning adequate lighting so the checkpoint is illuminated to alert the motorist of it.
- Initial contact with motorists should be kept brief and if impairment is suspected the motorists should be directed out of the flow of traffic and into a designated roadside test area.
- A supervisor must establish the roadblock and there must be a supervisor at the scene during the checkpoint.
- Police cannot stop vehicles randomly, they must stop motorists in a neutral way. Examples being to stop every vehicle, every other vehicle, every third-fourth vehicle, etc.
If you or someone you know has received a DUI, contact Harris & Huge.