Are DWI Checkpoints Legal in North Carolina?

North Carolina is one of 39 states which currently allow sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints, which are also known as DWI checkpoints or roadblocks, enable law enforcement officers to stop motor vehicles at random to determine if their drivers are intoxicated.

Officers have this power because roadblocks are designed to take intoxicated motorists off the road. So, at DWI checkpoints, officers may detain motorists even if they initially lack reasonable suspicion. If an officer develops reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence, field sobriety tests usually follow.

The setup is critical. If DWI roadblocks do not conform with all legal requirements, a Raleigh DWI lawyer may be able to get the case thrown out of court. For example, police must either check all vehicles or stop vehicles on a predetermined basis (i.e. every third or fifth car). Additionally, officers must be looking for evidence of substance impairment or other motor vehicle-related crimes. The law only authorizes checkpoints for these limited purposes.

Other requirements vary by state, and pre-checkpoint publicity is a good example. Some states require law enforcement to announce or publish the location of the checkpoint in advance. But all that is required in North Carolina is visible, flashing blue lights at the roadblock itself.

Moreover, some states allow motorists to suddenly turn around and avoid a checkpoint if they please. However, in North Carolina, police may stop such vehicles.

If you were stopped at a checkpoint and charged with DWI, the Raleigh DWI lawyers at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, Attorneys at Law, can help. We thoroughly evaluate your case to determine whether police violated your rights and help you get your entire case dismissed or your charges reduced. To get more than fifty years of combined legal experience on your side, fill out the form to the right or call us at (919) 887-8040.