As one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, Las Vegas is a hub of entertainment and culture. The city is constantly buzzing with crowds of people and law enforcement has to work hard to keep crime to a minimum. A big part of this involves setting up regular sobriety checkpoints throughout the city. Although sobriety checkpoints do not have to be publicized prior to their setup, most can be found by looking online or listening to the radio.
The big question surrounding these checkpoints is whether they're legal or not. After all, aren't officers always required to have probable cause before pulling someone over? Technically, yes, but the United States Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are lawful and are the one exception to the probable cause rule.
That being said, checkpoints must be set up based on the following requirements:
- The checkpoint must be set up on a highway location with visibility of at least 100 yards in both directions.
- A stop sign must be placed at the checkpoint with visibility of at least 50 yards in both directions.
- At least one flashing light must be placed at the checkpoint with visibility of at least 100 yards to oncoming traffic.
- "Police Stop" warning signs should precede the checkpoint by at least a quarter of a mile.
- A flare, light, or lantern must be placed by the "Police Stop" sign to clearly attract attention.
What are my rights at a sobriety checkpoint?
Just like any other time when you're stopped by the police, you do have the right to remain silent. Responding to questioning by saying something like "I don't wish to answer that" is the best way to be polite and avoid incriminating yourself.
Law enforcement does have the right to request that you perform field sobriety tests and take a breathalyzer test. While you can say no to the field sobriety tests, refusing to take a breathalyzer will likely result in the suspension of your license.
If you were arrested for a DUI after getting stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, don't despair. My firm has a track record of defending DUI charges successfully and will provide aggressive representation for your case. Schedule your consultation today with a Las Vegas DUI attorney!