In Indiana, sobriety checkpoints ARE LEGAL and do not violate the Indiana Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Indiana is one of 37 states that allow sobriety checkpoints. Those states that permit sobriety checkpoints have very specific rules for conducting and enforcing them. Typically, sobriety stops are of a short duration of between thirty (30) seconds to two (2) minutes. They are set up at temporary, random locations and must not last longer than is reasonably necessary. Checkpoints must be publicized ahead of time. You are able to find out the existence of any sobriety checkpoint by doing a basic internet search.
There are ways to challenge an arrest based on an encounter with police at a sobriety checkpoint. The first thing that the court will determine is whether the checkpoint was legal. Courts look at things such as:
- Why the checkpoint was needed at the location selected;
- Whether drivers were stopped according to a neutral plan;
- Whether adequate safety precautions were taken and whether police vehicles and officers were clearly identifiable;
- The duration of the stop, the intensity of questioning and degree of intrusion; and
- Whether the checkpoint was publicized.
In considering the degree of intrusion, courts look at not only the length of detention but also whether the roadblock was avoidable. You are NOT required to drive through a roadblock and may utilize the turn off provided prior to the actual roadblock. Generally, a driver who wishes to avoid a sobriety checkpoint may do so, as long as the driver does not engage in any unlawful or dangerous behavior. The more avoidable a roadblock is, the less it interferes with the liberty of a driver, and the more likely it is legal.
A person detained at a sobriety checkpoint is not in custody and, therefore, police officers are not required to provide Miranda warnings. At a sobriety checkpoint, police may ask for the driver’s license and registration. Officers may also ask whether the driver has been drinking and generally need not advise the driver of the driver’s Miranda rights. However, a driver is NOT required to answer the officer’s questions about whether the driver has been drinking.
If you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, you are required to provide your:
- Address and
- Date of birth OR
- Your driver’s license.
If you are NOT required to:
- Answer questions,
- Submit to Field Sobriety Test or
- Permit police to search your vehicle.
At Stracci Law Group, there are few things our attorneys relish more than a good legal challenge. Sobriety checkpoint cases provide us with just that type of challenge. We have had a great deal of success in defending these cases over the years and if you would like us to put our skill and experience to work for you, call us today at (219) 525-1000.