If you have ever driven through a police DUI checkpoint in Charleston, you might wonder how they work and why they are allowed to exist — especially if the police arrested you. After all, random police stops are unconstitutional, right?
It’s true that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. To pull over your vehicle, a police officer must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that you are committing a crime like drinking and driving. Otherwise, the traffic stop is illegal.
The rules for DUI checkpoints in South Carolina
But as with so many things in the law, there are exceptions. DUI checkpoints are one of them. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement may set up DUI checkpoints to inspect drivers and arrest those suspected of driving while impaired. However, police must follow certain guidelines, such as:
- The agency must announce the checkpoint in advance so the public is notified.
- The location chosen must be one where drunk driving commonly occurs, according to data.
- Officers operating the checkpoint must use a uniform method of selecting drivers to stop, such as every third vehicle.
- The checkpoint must minimize inconvenience to drivers.
If the police don’t follow the rules and violate your rights while detaining you at a checkpoint, any evidence they seize during the stop could be inadmissible in court. This could mean the prosecution would not be allowed to use the results of a breath, blood, or field sobriety test. An experienced defense attorney can spot the signs of such violations.