Like millions of people across the United States you may plan to do a significant amount of driving this holiday season. Whether you are planning to drive across town or across the country be aware that both drunk driving accidents and drunk driving arrests increase dramatically during the period from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. As a result, you are likely to find yourself navigating DUI checkpoints in Nebraska during the holiday season.
Of course, the best way to ensure that you remain safe and out of jail during the holidays is to stay off the roadways; however, for most people that is not a practical solution. The next best plan is to not drink and drive. Even the customary glass of wine or bottle of beer might not be a good idea if you plan to drive during the holidays because you are at an increased risk of coming across a DUI checkpoint. If, however, you have had a glass of wine or a beer and you do drive, how should you handle a checkpoint if you come across one?
First, you should know that when designed and implemented properly DUI checkpoints have been found to be legal both by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and by the Nebraska high court. Typically, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause to pull you over while driving; however, SCOTUS held that the dangers posed by drunk driving outweigh the minimal intrusion caused by a brief detention in a checkpoint. Although checkpoints have been upheld, a number of guidelines have also been established to ensure that they are fair and minimally invasive. For example:
- Checkpoints must be well-planned out ahead of time.
- It must be obvious to a motorist that they are entering a checkpoint.
- The location must be safe and lend itself to the purpose.
- Vehicles and/or drivers cannot be targeted – investigations must be random.
- Checkpoints must be published ahead of time.
If you do find yourself in a DUI checkpoint you will be required to stop and talk to a law enforcement officer briefly. Unless the officer becomes suspicious you will be back on your way rapidly. If the officer does become suspicious that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol you will be diverted off the roadway for a more thorough investigation which will likely include performing a series of field sobriety tests. If you fail those you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence.