You were driving home from a party. As you approached the intersection near your home, you noticed what appeared to be a police roadblock with flashing lights. Officers were stopping cars and checking IDs. When it was your turn, you flashed your license and tried to act sober. Unfortunately, the odor of alcohol on your breath alerted police and next thing you knew, you were charged with DUI.
What are your rights? What can you do?
In Illinois prior to 1985, police roadblocks to search for drunk drivers were considered a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. After 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court held that roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints were legal as long as they met certain criteria for reasonableness. First, the intrusion to the driver should be relatively minor. Second, the officers performing the roadblock must follow a set of guidelines established by their police department. Third, the roadblock should give some indication of its official nature, for example a large number of flashing police cars on the scene.
If you are stopped at a roadblock, you may have to show your identification, but you do not have to answer questions or consent to the searching of your vehicle. You may also refuse to take field sobriety tests and the breathalyzer as you would with an ordinary stop for a DUI. Of course, if you refuse these tests, you are subject to an increased suspension of your driving privileges. However, refusing the tests may improve your chances of winning your case.
Once you have been arrested, your attorney can investigate whether a roadblock had been properly conducted. Did the police agency have established guidelines? Were these guidelines followed? Did the officers have too much leeway in the field? Was the stop unduly intrusive for the driver or even for the neighborhood? If so, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to have your arrest suppressed.
If you have questions about DUI or another criminal or traffic offense, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-568-0160.