Usually, law enforcement in Massachusetts determine the location for a OUI/Drunk Driving roadblocks or check points using statistical information that indicates which roadways and streets have a high rate of drunk driving accidents or arrests. By law, they are required to notify the public in electronic and print media of the DUI checkpoint 3 days in advance.
The OUI checkpoints must be adorned with road flares, signs and police vehicle flashing lights that are adequate to notify drivers that there is roadblock ahead. As drivers approach the entrance of the DUI roadblock they will be met by a uniformed officer that will direct the driver to pull their vehicle into a designated area where they will have a brief encounter with another officer for approximately one minute. The officer will ask the driver to roll down his window and will ask a few questions and depending on the officer’s observations will determine if the operator has consumed alcohol.
If the officer has a reasonable belief that the driver is operating under the influence of alcohol he will direct the driver to move his vehicle to a designated area where the driver will undergo a more thorough sobriety evaluation. All the officer needs to do is detect an odor of alcohol in order to justify detaining the driver for further evaluation.
Once the driver brings his vehicle to the secondary evaluation area he or she will need to provide their drivers license, registration. They will be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. A driver that fails the tests will be arrested for OUI on the spot.
Drunk Driving Checkpoint Evidence Suppressed
An attorney has several grounds to invalidate the OUI checkpoint and suppress the evidence. First off, law enforcement are required to follow particular procedures when conducting an OUI/DUI sobriety checkpoint. Any of the following can invalidate the roadblock:
- Arbitrarily choosing which vehicles to stop and check. Law enforcement must have and stick to a plan for choosing which vehicles to stop that is not considered arbitrary. An example of a proper plan would to stop every 4th vehicle. Otherwise police could pick and choose which vehicles to stop which could lead to unconstitutional profiling;
- Law enforcement supervisors must have a written OUI roadblock plan and the police personnel must follow the plan exactly. If police deviate from the plan that could invalidate the roadblock search results;
- If the police officer does not have reasonable suspicion to direct you to the secondary area for further investigation;
- Law enforcement fails to give the public proper advanced notice that they will be holding a checkpoint at a specific location;
- The location of the OUI roadblock was not considered a problem area or location where drunk driving accidents and arrest commonly occur;
The burden is on the prosecution to prove that law enforcement followed all these rules and conducted a proper OUI roadblock.
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