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DUI checkpoints present complex problems

You're driving home from the bar or from a friend's place, maybe after a few drinks. You were careful to drink plenty of water and eat some food so as not to drink on an empty stomach and you feel fine to drive, but you may still be technically over the limit. Up ahead, you see traffic slowing to a stop, and the familiar sight of flashing lights. At first, you think there must have been an accident, but as you get closer, you have that sudden sinking feeling — it's a DUI checkpoint.

A number of states do not allow police to perform DUI checkpoints, interpreting them to be a violation of citizens' constitutional rights. However, Kansas does currently allow for police to use the tactic. Many legal experts oppose the practice, claiming that it removes the requirement that an officer have some sort of suspicion that a driver is intoxicated in order to stop them for questioning. However, on a federal level, the Supreme Court has ruled that checkpoints are legal, asserting that the issue of public safety from drunk drivers outweighs the violation of 4th amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

If you have been caught technically above the limit in a DUI checkpoint, challenging it will be difficult, but is not necessarily impossible. Like all DUI charges, the issuing officer may have made some procedural errors, or the department may have failed to properly publicize the checkpoint's location and time beforehand. While none of these factors guarantee dismissal of charges, they are well-worth pursuing.

Like any criminal charges, you should never sit back and simply take a DUI. The consequences can be costly and long-lasting, and in many cases are practically unwarranted. If you are facing DUI charges, do not hesitate to seek out professional legal counsel who understands the local system and can help protect your rights.

Source: Findlaw, "DUI Checkpoints," accessed Feb. 17, 2017

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