Law enforcement agencies across the Magnolia State devote significant resources to stopping motorists who are driving under the influence of alcohol. The primary purpose of these stops, of course, is to keep the public safe. After all, as a BuyAutoInsurance.com study found, Mississippi leads the country in the number of annual drunk driving fatalities.
In addition to stopping suspected drunk drivers, officers in Mississippi have the authority to establish DUI checkpoints. At these checkpoints, officers temporarily detain drivers regardless of whether they suspect them of intoxicated driving.
Requirements of a legal checkpoint
In some states, sobriety checkpoints are not legal. In Mississippi, DUI roadblocks are generally ok, provided they meet certain requirements. These include the following:
- The checkpoint must not target specific drivers
- The checkpoint must be reasonably safe
- The checkpoint must have warning signs and lights
- Officers must not engage in discrimination when stopping motorists
- Officers must publish the time and location of checkpoints in advance
It is generally not acceptable for officers to waste motorists’ time at sobriety checkpoints. That is, officers should stop vehicles only long enough to determine whether drivers may be under the influence of alcohol or another substance.
Your legal defense
Even if you have a firm commitment never to driving after drinking alcohol, life may intervene. If you have a blood alcohol concentration above Mississippi’s 0.08% legal limit, officers may arrest you at a sobriety checkpoint. Because there are some harsh penalties for DUI offenders, it is advisable to explore all your defense options.
One of these options may involve attacking the legality of the sobriety checkpoint. Ultimately, if you can prove officers failed to follow protocol when erecting the checkpoint, you may be able to secure an acquittal.