Sobriety checkpoints are legally controversial. Some people believe that they shouldn’t be used because of the lack of reasonable suspicion. But the law does allow for the use of sobriety checkpoints in Virginia right now.
What some of these critics will say, however, is that very few people get arrested at these checkpoints. Doesn’t it make more sense to conduct normal drunk driving stops, which have a much higher chance of generating an arrest?
But the police counter this by stating that the goal of the checkpoint isn’t to arrest drivers who are already impaired. The police will do this if they encounter one, of course, but their main goal is deterrence. Their view is that, if people know they may have to pass through a checkpoint later, they will be less likely to drink and drive in the first place.
Can you avoid the checkpoint?
If you see a checkpoint ahead of you, don’t assume that you have to go through it. It is legal to avoid it, as long as you do so in a proper manner and without breaking any traffic laws.
For example, maybe you see a side street, you turn your blinker on, and you make a careful right turn. For all the police know, you live down that street. This is not illegal.
But if there’s nowhere to turn and you pull an illegal U-turn in the middle of the road and start heading back in the other direction, that does give the police justification to stop your car. It may also make them believe that you are impaired, increasing the odds of an arrest.
Are you facing charges?
Perhaps you’ve already been arrested, either at a checkpoint or through a traffic stop. Either way, a DUI conviction can have a major impact on your life, so be sure you know what legal steps to take.