DUI checkpoints in Nevada are where police may pull over drivers without probable cause that they are under the influence. The police ask the drivers questions and may have them perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). Drivers who the cops suspect are drunk or high will be arrested for DUI.
Driving through a sobriety checkpoint without stopping is a crime, carrying a fine and potentially incarceration. But if the checkpoint was not set up properly, then drivers arrested or cited at the checkpoint may be able to get the charges dropped.
Law enforcement typically set up DUI checkpoints during holiday weekends on high-traffic roadways. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department often gives advanced notice of when these checkpoints will be.
In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently asked questions about DUI checkpoints in Nevada, including the driver's legal rights and obligations. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. What are DUI checkpoints in Nevada?
- 2. How do Nevada DUI checkpoints work?
- 3. Are DUI checkpoints legal in Nevada?
- 4. Is law enforcement required to publicize Nevada checkpoints in the media?
- 5. Is it illegal to drive through a Nevada DUI checkpoint without stopping?
- 6. When can I get my DUI checkpoint case sealed?
DUI checkpoints are cordoned-off areas on Nevada public roads where police can legally stop drivers for no reason and then investigate whether they are under the influence. The supposed purpose of DUI checkpoints is to deter drunk driving.
DUI checkpoints are also called sobriety checkpoints, drunk driving sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks.
When a person is driving through a sobriety checkpoint, the officers will probably ask the driver some questions and shine a flashlight into the car to see if he/she is transporting open alcohol containers. If they believe the driver is exhibiting intoxicated behavior, the driver will be directed to a nearby area.
Then the police may ask the driver to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) and perform FSTs, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Depending on the results, the driver may be arrested for driving under the influence or be allowed to leave.
Only if they are administered properly. In order for an administrative roadblock like a Las Vegas DUI sobriety checkpoint to be valid, law enforcement must follow these strict rules and guidelines:
- 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, also clearly visible to oncoming traffic at a distance of no less than 100 yards; and
- Warning signs must be placed at the side of the highway no less than a quarter mile from the roadblock so oncoming traffic are notified that a police stop lies ahead. The signage has to be big 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.1
If someone gets arrested at a Las Vegas DUI roadblock and his/her attorney can show that the police failed to follow any or all of these notice protocols, the case may be dismissed irrespective of whether he/she were driving under the influence.
No. However, law enforcement usually does inform the media about planned DUI checkpoints in Nevada especially if they are being set up during holiday weekends or special events.
If a person is driving and sees warning signs of an upcoming DUI checkpoint in Nevada, the driver is allowed to take any legal detour prior to that checkpoint to avoid going through it. But once a driver arrives at a checkpoint, he/she must answer the cops' questions and comply with their requests before he/she will be allowed to drive away.
The penalties for traveling through a Nevada administrative DUI roadblock without stopping or for disobeying the officers' orders is a gross misdemeanor carrying:
- up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- up to $2,000 in fines
- one to six (1 - 6) years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
- up to $5,000 in fines2
Gross misdemeanor convictions for driving through a checkpoint may be sealed two (2) years after the case closes in Nevada. But felony convictions have a five (5) year waiting time. Note that cases that get dismissed (no conviction) can get sealed immediately.
Note that a Nevada conviction for DUI has a seven (7) year waiting period, whether or not a checkpoint was involved.3
Call us if you have been charged with a DUI in Nevada . . . .
Whether or not your DUI arrest occurred at a Nevada checkpoint, our Las Vegas DUI Defense attorneys can help. In many cases we can get DUI charges reduced or dismissed due to police misconduct and other technicalities. Call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation today.
To learn about California sobriety checkpoints, go to our informational article on California sobriety checkpoints.
- NRS 484B.570.
- NRS 484B.580.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.