Sobriety checkpoints are just part of life in Colorado. These stops are legal and law enforcement uses them to reduce the amount of drinking and driving on our roads. You might wonder what a checkpoint entails, as well as what it means for you if an officer stops you at one.
Law enforcement uses sobriety checkpoints to catch intoxicated drivers and get them off the streets. However, some question the fairness of these checkpoints.
How a sobriety checkpoint works
Officers set up checkpoints in key areas and detain a predetermined number of vehicles, such as every fifth or seventh car. They are checking the drivers for signs of intoxication. Law enforcement may utilize a field sobriety test or portable breathalyzer to determine if you have been drinking.
Your rights may be challenged
If you drank little to no alcohol, you may believe you have no cause for concern at a checkpoint. However, it is possible to be arrested despite thinking that you're completely sober.
For example, you may have a balance issue that causes you to fail the field sobriety test. An officer may mistake a speech impediment as a sign you are drunk, or he or she could smell alcohol on your breath from the one drink you had that evening, which did not bring your blood alcohol content past the legal limit.
Additionally, some believe sobriety checkpoints are a violation of privacy. People argue that checkpoints result in the improper loss of rights and privileges, such as being unlawfully detained in a false arrest or having a driver's license suspended. Others believe they unfairly profile minorities.
It may be necessary to seek legal counsel if you had a bad experience while pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint.