Removing drivers who are under the influence off of the road is a key goal for law enforcement authorities in Arizona. However, officers are required to respect certain rights of motorists when they conduct traffic stops, including having a reasonable suspicion that the motorists have engaged in illegal activity or are doing so before they can pull them over. To stop a driver for a suspected DUI, an officer must observe some type of indicator that the driver might be intoxicated or is driving dangerously.
DUI checkpoints, or sobriety checkpoints, allow police officers to stop vehicles without first observing any indication of dangerous or intoxicated driving. While this might seem to contradict the general rule for police officers and their requirements for stopping drivers, DUI checkpoints in Arizona have been found to be constitutional as long as they are conducted properly.
Police officers must carry out checkpoints under an advanced plan that provides neutral and explicit limitations on the actions of the officers. This is to prevent police from making pretextual stops on the basis of race. The courts believe that taking away the officers’ discretion about which vehicles to stop in a DUI checkpoint can reduce the likelihood that motorists will be chosen based on an officer’s biases.
What Makes a DUI Stop or Checkpoint Legal?
Under normal circumstances, a police officer will need to have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated the law before he or she can pull you over. This suspicion cannot be an inarticulable hunch. Instead, the officer must observe you engaging in some type of activity that makes him or her reasonably suspect that you have violated the traffic laws or are driving drunk.