Many states, including Nevada, use DUI checkpoints as one method of cracking down on drunk drivers. Also referred to as sobriety checkpoints, DUI checkpoints are locations where police station legal roadblocks where officers stop and check drivers for signs of impairment indicating intoxication.
DUI checkpoints in the United States are only legal if they are administered properly. NRS 484.359 permits DUI sobriety checkpoints. The legality of the checkpoint is determined by whether or not the police follow the rules and guidelines required by the statute.
Here are some important points to remember about DUI checkpoints in Las Vegas.
- The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department typically issues a press release notifying the public of the scheduled DUI checkpoint, but they are not legally required to do so.
The press release will usually indicate the date and times of the planned checkpoint, but not the specific location. Usually a major roadway known for heavy traffic, numerous accidents and frequently impaired drivers is chosen.
- You are permitted take any legal detour prior to a DUI roadblock if you wish to avoid it.
You should be able to identify the warning signs of an upcoming DUI checkpoint from a distance, since NRS 484B.570 requires that:
- Warning signs must be placed at the side of the highway no less than a quarter mile from the roadblock so oncoming traffic is notified that a police stop lies ahead. The signage must be large and bright enough so drivers can see it, and a burning beam light, flare or lantern must be placed near the signs to attract attention.
- The checkpoint must be established on a highway clearly visible to approaching traffic at a distance of no less than 100 yards in either direction.
- A sign must be placed near the centerline of the highway displaying the word "Stop" in letters large enough and bright enough to be readable at a distance of no less than 50 yards in either direction.
- The checkpoint must have at least one flashing red light at the side of the highway clearly visible to oncoming traffic at a distance of no less than 100 yards.
- Once you arrive at a DUI checkpoint, you are required to stop and comply with police directives, or else face arrest.
NRS 484B.580 establishes the following penalties for drivers who fail to stop at a Nevada DUI roadblock or disobey an officers' orders.
- Gross misdemeanor if no death or substantial bodily harm or damage to property in excess of $1,000 occurs:
- up to 364 days in jail and/or
- Fines up to $2,000
- Otherwise, a category B felony:
- one to six years in prison and/or
- Fines up to $5,000
- Las Vegas DUI checkpoint police do not have the right to search your vehicle without your consent or probable cause. At a DUI checkpoint, probable cause may include:
- Visible presence of alcohol or drugs
- Odor of alcohol or drugs
- Gaze nystagmus (involuntary eye movements)
- Blood-shot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Impairment of physical movements
- Verbal admission of drug or alcohol use
- Inconsistency in answers to questions
- You can challenge a DUI arrest made at a sobriety checkpoint.
The criminal charges against you can be dismissed if you can demonstrate that the police failed to follow any of the legal protocols required of a Nevada DUI checkpoint. This is true whether you were driving under the influence or not. Contact us to discuss your legal options related to your DUI arrest. (Read our article explaining the benefits of blood tests versus breath tests in Nevada DUI cases.)