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Are DUI checkpoints legal in Connecticut? Drunk drivers beware

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other substances is illegal. It carries severe potential consequences, including risks to the lives of other road users. Connecticut has taken measures to address this issue by implementing DUI or sobriety checkpoints, which are legal in the state.

When passing by these checkpoints, here are important things to keep in mind.

Legal, but with restrictions

While sobriety checkpoints are legal, they are not a free pass for law enforcement to act without restrictions. Here are the rules that the police are required to follow when setting up these checkpoints:

  1. The police must publicize checkpoints in advance: Before a checkpoint is set up, law enforcement must announce its location and timing. This ensures that drivers are aware and can plan their routes accordingly.
  2. The police must conduct checkpoints safely: They must establish these checkpoints considering the well-being of all road users, including both drivers and officers.
  3. Stops must be systematic: Police cannot arbitrarily decide which vehicles to stop. They must follow a predetermined pattern, such as stopping every third or fifth vehicle.

If police officers deviate from this system, they must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause refers to observable signs like erratic driving behavior or the smell of alcohol, indicating someone is driving under the influence. An arrest made without probable cause could potentially render the arrest invalid.

What to do when facing a DUI charge

Facing a DUI charge can lead to severe consequences in Connecticut. These may include a fine ranging from $500 to $1000 for a first offense, imprisonment for up to six months and a license suspension for up to a year. More severe penalties apply for additional crimes.

However, the key to any DUI charge is probable cause. Law enforcement must have clear, observable reasons to believe a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Without these signs, the arrest may lack a legal basis. In such a situation, the immediate concern for the driver wouldn’t be the potential consequences, but challenging the legality of their arrest.

In such situations, seeking an attorney can help. They can provide guidance on the appropriate next steps to take.