DWI Checkpoints in NC: Are They Legal?

May 17, 2019

In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police sobriety checkpoints in Michigan were legal. It was left to the individual states as to whether they would implement them. To date, 39 states use sobriety checkpoints. According to the criminal attorney in Raleigh NC at the Law Office of Karl Knudsen, police sobriety checkpoints are legal in North Carolina so long as they meet the following requirements:

  • andomness: Either all cars that are traveling through the checkpoint must be stopped, or a random number can be stopped. A random number might be one out of every five or seven cars.
  • Specificity: Police can’t check for ordinary criminal activity. The checkpoint must be established for purposes of identifying drivers who might be intoxicated or might have committed other specific crimes.
  • Notice: There is no advance notice requirement for establishing a sobriety checkpoint in North Carolina. Flashing blue lights need only mark a DWI checkpoint in the state.
  • Avoiding a DWI Checkpoint: You can’t just turn around or go down a side street to avoid a North Carolina DWI checkpoint. Police can stop a driver for doing so and inquire as to why he or she avoided the checkpoint.
  • Other Criminal Acts: Police in North Carolina are not permitted to search for evidence of other non-traffic crimes.

If police fail to comply with these requirements at a DWI checkpoint, and a driver is arrested anyway, his or her arrest might be determined to be illegal in a pretrial motion hearing. If you were cited for DWI after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, the criminal defense attorney in Raleigh NC at the Law Office of Karl Knudsen will closely examine police compliance with the above requirements. Your driver’s license and freedom are in jeopardy after any DWI arrest. Contact criminal attorney Raleigh Karl Knudsen as soon as possible for a review of your case.