Nevada DUI checkpoints are legal, but law enforcement must follow specific guidelines to ensure their legality. These guidelines include
- having a neutral location,
- warning drivers in advance of the checkpoint,
- conducting the checkpoint in a minimally intrusive manner, and
- having a legitimate purpose for the checkpoint.
Here are three key things to know:
- If police fail to follow checkpoint guidelines, your DUI charge can be dismissed based on law enforcement misconduct.
- As of 2021, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has done away with checkpoints and is now doing blitzes where they actively look for suspected DUI drivers throughout the city.
- Blitzes do not need to abide by checkpoint laws described below.1
Upcoming and Past DUI checkpoints & blitzes
|Saturday, November 25, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, November 11, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Tuesday, October 31, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, October 7, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Monday, September 1 to 4, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Sunday, August 11 to 13, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Tuesday, June 30 to July 4, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Sunday, May 5 to 7, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, April 22, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, March 18, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Sunday, February 12, 2023||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Sunday, December 2 to 4, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, November 29, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, November 19, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Monday, October 29 to 31, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Sunday, October 21 to 23, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Friday to Monday, September 1 to 5, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout North Las Vegas and Las Vegas|
|Saturday, June 18, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Saturday, May 28, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
|Sunday, February 13, 2022||“DUI blitz” throughout Las Vegas|
In this article our Las Vegas DUI attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the definition of DUI checkpoints in Nevada?
- 2. How do they work?
- 3. Are they legal?
- 4. Is there advanced notice of Las Vegas DUI checkpoints?
- 5. Where do police commonly set up checkpoints?
- 6. What are the penalties for driving through DUI checkpoints without stopping?
- 7. What are common defenses to DUI checkpoint arrests?
- 8. When can my criminal record be sealed?
- Additional resources
1. What is the definition of DUI checkpoints in Nevada?
Las Vegas DUI checkpoints are cordoned-off areas of roads where police stop every driver to check whether they are under the influence. All drivers going through the checkpoints get stopped, not only those exhibiting signs of intoxication. Then police arrest the motorists they believe are driving drunk or driving under the influence of drugs.
The LVMPD typically sets up DUI checkpoints in high-traffic areas during holiday weekends or special events when heavy drinking goes on:2
Sometimes, police officers at roadblocks do not stop every car but every fourth car, or every license plate that starts with an even number, etc. Any predetermined formula for detaining drivers is allowed as long as it is not in any way discriminatory.
2. How do they work?
When you are driving into a sobriety checkpoint in Nevada, the officers will stop you and ask some questions like,
- “Have you been drinking?”
- “Where are you coming from?”
- “Where are you going?”
You are not obligated to answer these questions because of your Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. Though instead of being rude, you are advised to respond politely, “Thank you, but I decline to answer.”
The only question you have to answer is if they ask your name. The officer may also ask you to show your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, which you are legally obligated to produce during a traffic stop.3
Some drivers try to avoid rolling down their windows by holding up their license, etc. against the glass. In practice, the officer will claim they cannot see well that way and will require you to roll down your window (which will allow them to smell your breath).
If it is nighttime, officers usually shine a flashlight into the vehicle to see if you are transporting alcohol in violation of Nevada’s open container laws (NRS 484B.150).
If you seem sober, the officers will allow you to continue through the checkpoint. Though if the officers reasonably suspect that you are a drunk driver, you will be directed to a nearby area for tests. Examples of impaired behavior include:
- Bad driving,
- An odor of alcohol on your breath,
- Open or empty alcohol containers,
- Bloodshot or glassy eyes, or
- Slurred speech patterns
The police may ask you to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) and perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). Depending on the results, you may be arrested for driving under the influence and be required to submit to an evidentiary breath test or blood test.
Even if you are not intoxicated, you could still be cited for other traffic violations, such as driving without a valid driver’s license (NRS 483.230) or driving on a suspended license (NRS 483.560).
3. Are they legal?
Yes, if the DUI checkpoint is administered properly. In order for a roadblock to be valid in Nevada, law enforcement must follow the following four rules:
- The checkpoint must be clearly visible to approaching traffic from 100 yards away;
- A “Stop” sign must be placed near the centerline of the highway that is readable from 50 yards away;
- A flashing red light at the side of the highway must be clearly visible to oncoming traffic 100 yards away; and
- There must be warning signs at the side of the highway at least a quarter-mile from the roadblock to notify oncoming traffic about it. Additionally, these signs must be accompanied by a burning beam light, flare or lantern to attract attention.
If the police fail to follow these protocols, your charges for driving through a roadblock may be reduced or dismissed.4
4. Is there advanced notice of Las Vegas DUI checkpoints?
Las Vegas police may set up roadblocks without publicizing it first. The checkpoint signs that are readable from 100 yards away are supposed to serve as a sufficient warning.5
However, law enforcement often does disclose DUI checkpoints a few days in advance. The LVMPD posts press releases about checkpoints here.
5. Where do police commonly set up checkpoints?
Area commands may set up sobriety roadblocks on nearly any public road through the Las Vegas Valley, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.
6. What are the penalties for driving through DUI checkpoints without stopping?
Traveling through a Nevada administrative DUI roadblock without stopping is a gross misdemeanor in violation of NRS 484B.580. Penalties include:
- Up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- Up to $2,000 in fines
Sometimes people try to barrel through a roadblock and speed away, which will just result in a police chase and probably a collision.
- One to six (1 – 6) years in Nevada State Prison, and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines6
Depending on the case, you may face drunk or drugged driving charges as well. See our article about Nevada DUI penalties.
6.1. Can I turn around if I see a checkpoint in the distance?
Yes. If you see warning signs of an upcoming DUI checkpoint in Nevada, you are allowed to take any legal detour prior to that checkpoint (such as through a side street) to avoid going through it.
7. What are common defenses to DUI checkpoint arrests?
Three common defenses to fight DUI checkpoint charges that our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys rely on include:
- You followed the officer’s directions. Perhaps in the chaos of the roadblock, the police mistakenly thought you were disobeying them.
- The checkpoint was not legal. For example, perhaps the officers failed to erect the proper signage and signals.
- The police committed misconduct. Examples include the officer asking questions that are unreasonably intrusive or arresting you without sufficient probable cause (a “hunch” is not enough).
Currently, it is not a defense to argue that DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional. Police stopping you with no probable cause seems like an unlawful search and seizure, though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that correctly administered roadblocks are consistent with the Fourth Amendment.8
8. When can my criminal record be sealed?
|Disobeying a Nevada DUI checkpoint||Record Seal wait time|
|Category B felony conviction||5 years after the case ends|
|Gross misdemeanor conviction||2 years after the case ends|
Note that a misdemeanor DUI conviction has a seven (7) year waiting period for a record seal, whether or not a checkpoint was involved. Plus felony DUI convictions may never be sealed.9
For more information, refer to the following:
- Alcoholics Anonymous – 12-step program to overcome alcoholism.
- Overcoming Alcohol Addiction – Information and support by helpguide.org.
- DUI schools by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles – The NV DMV lists all the official providers of alcohol education classes recognized by state and municipal courts.
- Impaired Driving Program by the Nevada State Police Office of Traffic Safety – A state program aimed at reducing serious and fatal DUI accidents.
- Nevada Approved Ignition Interlock Devices – List by the Nevada State Police Office of Public Safety.
- Sabrina Schnur, Las Vegas police DUI initiative aims for more arrests, fewer deaths, Las Vegas Review-Journal (February 12, 2021).
- NRS 484B.750. See, for example, Austin Carter, 23 drivers arrested at DUI checkpoint on Super Bowl Sunday, KTNV Channel 13 ABC (February 2019). Common DUI checkpoint dates are New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Weekend, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Labor Day Weekend, and Halloween.
- NRS 171.123. NRS 483.350. NRS 484A.650. NRS 482.255.
- NRS 484B.570. See also Motor Vehicle Safety Intervention Fact Sheets, CDC.
- NRS 484B.570; see, for example, Austin Carter, DUI Strike Team makes hundreds of arrests in 2019, KTNV Channel 13 ABC (January 2, 2020).
- NRS 484B.580.
- Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz (1990) 496 U.S. 444 (the public interest behind preventing DUI-related injuries and deaths is outweighed by any invasion of privacy the roadblocks cause, especially since the police questions are arguably not intrusive and do not delay drivers too much.)
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.