Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

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Sobriety checkpoints can be complicated situations. On the one hand, they help make sure that drivers are sober and driving well. On the other hand, a badly directed checkpoint can be easily abused to harass drivers who haven’t committed a violation. You may have been on either side of this situation: caught driving while tipsy or forced to stop and possibly even charged by a corrupt officer without having consumed alcohol. Whichever your situation, this blog will explain whether sobriety checkpoints are legal, and if so, whether and what legal requirements sobriety checkpoints are bound to. Remember that if you want to contest a DUI charge, contacting a Mercer County DUI lawyer is your best bet.

What Are Sobriety Checkpoints and Are They Legal?

Sobriety checkpoints are set locations used by local and state law enforcement to screen drivers for signs of intoxicated impairment while behind the wheel. They are legal and constitutional within the terms of the New Jersey State Constitution. Police officers are allowed to ask basic questions to drivers stopped, as well as ask for documentation and check the driver for symptoms of impairment.

However, not just any kind of sobriety checkpoint is legal in New Jersey. In the same way that our driving must meet certain requirements of caution and diligence, sobriety checkpoints must comply with requirements and procedures established by New Jersey. If sobriety checkpoints do not, then they are no longer legal.

What Requirements Must a Sobriety Checkpoint Meet?

New Jersey DUI checkpoints must be created by a supervisory authority such that they target a specific, indicated area at a specific time and place. Sobriety checkpoints are not to be hidden, but instead clearly marked to the public with signs and lighting.

Similarly, when deciding to stop drivers, officers are required to use a neutral formula. It is not permissible for them to stop a driver just because of their appearance.

To avoid abuses, temporary sobriety checkpoints at the sole discretion of the officers are forbidden. Officers must have an order from a commanding officer to set up a DUI checkpoint. Nor are police officers allowed to choose when and where to put up a checkpoint.

Sobriety checkpoints in New Jersey are also required to submit reports. These reports must include:

  • The exact time and date
  • An explanation of how the officers meant to set up the checkpoint before they did so
  • Why the officers want to set up a sobriety checkpoint
  • Where the sobriety checkpoint is set up
  • The exact reason for setting up a checkpoint

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