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Sobriety checkpoints and their legality in Louisiana, P.1

Law enforcement agencies use a variety of tools in the battle against drunk driving, and one of these tools is sobriety checkpoints. Although sobriety checkpoints are legal under federal law, not every state considers sobriety checkpoints to be legal under state law. Louisiana is among the states that consider checkpoints legal, so drivers here do see them being conducted from time to time.

Although checkpoints are legal, they must meet certain legal requirements here in Louisiana. Typically, courts will consider various factors that bear upon the question of whether the state’s interest in preventing drunk driving justifies the intrusion of investigating a large group of drivers for intoxication. Balancing out these interest is important, and courts have to give due weight to all relevant factors.

Among the specific factors courts look at are:

• Whether the time, location and duration of the checkpoint and other aspects of the checkpoint were established by supervisors or administrators rather than field officers operating the checkpoint

• Whether advance warning of the checkpoint was provided to motorists

• Whether the detention of motorists was kept at a minimum or drawn out beyond what was necessary

• Whether officers used systematic, non-random criteria in stopping motorists

While these are not the only factors courts will consider in determining the validity of a sobriety checkpoint, they are important ones, and those who have been put through a sobriety checkpoint which is deficient in one or another of these points should consider whether they may have been subjected to an illegal checkpoint. This is especially important for those who’ve been charged with DUI or other criminal activity as a result of a sobriety checkpoint.

In our next post, we’ll consider this issue further, looking at possible legal remedies in the event of an illegal checkpoint.

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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