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Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Idaho?


Sobriety checkpoints occur often enough in Idaho, but are they legal? Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a severe offense in Idaho. Therefore, the law authorizes rigorous methods for the apprehension, prosecution, and punishment of offenders. However, in the process, law enforcement agents may get overzealous.

One of such overzealous attempts to catch people driving under the influence is the use of sobriety checkpoints. Unfortunately, these traffic stops operate in most American states. However, it’s essential to know if they’re legal in Idaho. If the police stop you at a DUI checkpoint, you need a Boise DUI attorney. Only an experienced lawyer can save you from suffering stiff penalties because of an illegal arrest.

What Is a Sobriety Checkpoint?

Sobriety checkpoints are also called DUI checkpoints. These are temporary police traffic stops or checkpoints where the police briefly stop road users to check for drunk drivers. Often, the police employ the usual sobriety tests.  Furthermore, sobriety checkpoints are often random and uncoordinated. For instance, you can find them at specific road points during holiday nights and special occasions.

Furthermore, the police can set up these spots close to large events or public drinking spots. The police claim that the purpose of these checkpoints is to apprehend drivers driving under the influence. However, they don’t stop all drivers because this will cause significant traffic congestion. Instead, they randomly stop and check some cars. Finally, the police department sometimes pre-announces the date and location of sobriety stops.

Sobriety Checkpoints and the Fourth Amendment 

The Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by government agents. For a stop and search to be reasonable, the stopping officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver has broken or is about to break the law. Furthermore, courts cannot issue warrants without probable cause.

Unfortunately, sobriety stops dispense with individual suspicion of drivers. Instead, the police go fishing for erring drivers in a mass stop. However, sobriety checkpoints are illegal in only about twelve American states. Despite the provisions of the Fourth Amendment, over thirty American states permit these DUI stops. The United States Supreme Court has held that the importance of getting impaired drivers off the road is more valuable than the inconvenience motorists suffer. This was the position of the court in Michigan Department of State v Sitz.

Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Idaho?

Luckily for Idaho residents, state laws can govern this particular issue. So, sobriety checkpoints are illegal under Idaho state law. Firstly, Article 1, section 17 of the Idaho Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. This is in agreement with the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, any police officer conducting such traffic stops in Idaho is violating the law.

Furthermore, the case of State v Henderson established this position of Idaho law. The court, in this case, stated that there was no legislative backing for such checkpoints in the state. The court found that the police’s evidence from the sobriety stop was unconstitutionally obtained. Therefore, the court overturned the conviction of Henderson.

What To Do if You Meet an Idaho DUI Checkpoint

Having known that DUI traffic stops are illegal, how you react when you encounter one is essential. For instance, it would be best not to turn around and flee the stop when you see the police. Instead, stop according to the police’s instructions.

Furthermore, you can comply with the instructions of the police as long as they’re constitutional. Turning and fleeing give the police probable cause to suspect, pursue and arrest you. If they stop you for a DUI in such instances, it’ll be hard to beat the charge in court. This is because the court may interpret your fleeing as an admission of guilt.

Finally, it’ll help to let the police know that you’re aware of your rights. You can do this by stating that such stops are illegal in Idaho. Such information may make the police stop the unlawful search. However, even if they continue, it’ll be best not to get aggressive with the police.

Boise DUI Attorneys Can Protect You From Illegal DUI Arrests

Have the police arrested you at a sobriety checkpoint in Idaho? Then you have been detained illegally. Therefore, the local district attorney cannot convict you with evidence they get from this illegal roadblock. However, you’ll need a Boise DUI attorney to get you off this charge. Only an experienced lawyer can successfully challenge the legality of an Idaho sobriety checkpoint.

At our law firm, we have represented many Idaho residents arrested on faulty DUI grounds. We have also won a significant percentage of these cases. Therefore, our lawyers have sufficient experience to save you from a sobriety checkpoint-backed DUI arrest. So, it’ll be best to contact our law office today.