If the police stop a person for suspicion of DUI, they must establish that the search is lawful; otherwise, any evidence arising out of the search may be deemed inadmissible. In other words, the State must demonstrate that the police had reasonable suspicion that a person is under the influence prior to effectuating a stop. While typically DUI charges arise out stop to investigate erratic driving, some are the result of DUI checkpoints. Whether such a stop constitutes a reasonable search and seizure was the topic of a recent North Carolina ruling, in which the court ultimately found the stop to be illegal. If you are accused of a DUI crime arising out of a DUI checkpoint, it is in your best interest to confer with a trusted Illinois DUI defense attorney about your potential defenses.
The North Carolina Ruling
It is reported that the defendant was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in a town in North Carolina. The investigating officer smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath, and she admitted to consuming two shots of alcohol. She submitted to field sobriety testing, which she failed, and a breathalyzer test, which resulted in a BAC of 0.11%. She was charged with DUI. Her attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop, arguing it was unlawful, but the motion was denied.
Allegedly, the defendant appealed, and on appeal, the court ruled in her favor. Specifically, it found that the trial court had not evaluated whether the arrest met the three standards established by the State Supreme Court to determine if the arrest was constitutional: the weight of the public interest; the degree to which the arrest advances the public interest, and the severity of its interference with personal liberty.
DUI Checkpoints in Illinois
The issue of whether DUI checkpoints are constitutional went to the United States Supreme Court in 1990, and it was ultimately determined that they are lawful if performed properly. The Supreme Court left it up to the states to determine how DUI checkpoints should be conducted, however. Currently, DUI checkpoints are legal in most states, including Illinois.
The police must nonetheless comply with state guidelines when setting up a DUI checkpoint and cannot select certain cars to pull over at random. Additionally, they must have probable cause to arrest a person for suspected DUI. In other words, they cannot arrest a person for a DUI offense without a reasonable belief that the person is engaged in illegal activity, based on objective evidence.
Meet with a Capable DUI Defense Attorney
If you were charged with a DUI crime after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint, there may be defenses you can assert to obtain a favorable outcome, and it is prudent for you to speak to an attorney. Theodore J. Harvatin, of Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a capable Illinois DUI defense attorney who is adept at helping people charged with DUI offenses seek just outcomes, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Harvatin via the form online or at 217.525.0520 to set up a meeting.