What Are DUI Checkpoints?
You may have seen them on the highways and byways of America especially during high-traffic times, late at night, or during the holidays. In general, DUI checkpoints are regular points along high-traffic roads that allow police and other peace officers to examine drivers to make sure they aren’t driving in an impaired state.
DUI checkpoints take many forms–some are simply patrol cars checking speed and safety, and pulling over drivers who appear to be impaired for a closer check. Other checkpoints are more invasive–all cars travelling along a certain stretch of road must pull over and pass inspection. The kind of checkpoint that you encounter has more to do with a state’s laws and attitudes toward DUI checkpoints than anything else.
38 states in America conduct DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, as part of their state policy toward impaired and drunk driving. The other 12 states have found that laws exist preventing or challenging the legality of such checkpoints.
DUI Checkpoint Locations
The best way to find DUI checkpoint locations is to watch local news and read your local newspaper. Most places that setup DUI checkpoints are legally bound to announce the location in some form. Your municipal or state police department may even post these checkpoint locations on their website.
DUI Checkpoint Locators
Websites like Roadblock Registry allow you to search for posted roadblocks by state and sometimes by city. You can also use your own two eyes to spot roadblocks–if you see lots of flashing lights between 9 pm and 2 am, you can bet you’ve just found a DUI checkpoint.
DUI Checkpoint Apps
Three apps for smartphones, called Buzzed, Tipsy, and Checkpointer, allow people with smartphones to instantly access roadblock and DUI checkpoint registries. These apps run from totally free to $4.99, and the more expensive the app the larger the database and the more often the updates. These apps are currently legal, though there are legal challenges to their existence and availability to the public.
DUI Checkpoint Laws
Depending on the state you live in, you may or may not have to worry about DUI checkpoints. Some states have ruled that such checkpoints are illegal–other states have specific interpretations of the Constitution that make such checkpoints illegal. There appears to be a geographic component to the legality of DUI checkpoints, with states in the Deep South and around New England favoring DUI checkpoints, while states in the West and Midwest tend to declare them illegal.
Here is a breakdown of all fifty states, whether or not they conduct DUI checkpoints, and how often.
Alabama–DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted throughout the year.
Alaska–DUI checkpoints are illegal because the state has no legal authority to run them.
Arizona–DUI checkpoints are conducted at least once per month.
Arkansas–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
California–DUI checkpoints are conducted once or twice a month.
Colorado–DUI checkpoints are conducted once or twice a month.
Connecticut–DUI checkpoints are legal but are not conducted regularly.
Delaware–DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted once a month between January and June and weekly from June through December.
D.C.– DUI checkpoints are conducted once or twice a month.
Florida–Florida is the DUI checkpoint capital of the world. DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted 15-20 times monthly.
Georgia–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Hawaii–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Idaho–DUI checkpoints are illegal by state law.
Illinois–Illinois is almost as DUI checkpoint-crazy as Florida, conducting several hundred checkpoints randomly throughout the year.
Indiana–DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted randomly.
Iowa–DUI checkpoints are illegal because of a state law that authorizes roadblocks but does not specifically authorize sobriety checkpoints.
Kansas–DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted once or twice a month.
Kentucky–DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted weekly.
Louisiana–The state Supreme Court recently authorized the use of DUI checkpoints.
Maine–DUI checkpoints are legal but rare.
Maryland–DUI checkpoints are legal and are conducted weekly.
Massachusetts–DUI checkpoints are conducted year round.
Michigan–DUI checkpoints are specifically classified as illegal by the Michigan state constitution.
Minnesota–DUI checkpoints are illegal by the Minnesota state constitution.
Mississippi–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Missouri–DUI checkpoints are conducted twice a month.
Montana–By state law, only “safety spot checks” are allowed.
Nebraska–DUI checkpoints are conducted 6 – 10 times per month.
Nevada–DUI checkpoints are conducted twice a month.
New Hampshire–According to the New Hampshire DPS, DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly, “weather permitting.”
New Jersey–DUI checkpoints are conducted once or twice a month.
New Mexico— New Mexico law states “DUI checkpoints set up to detect and apprehend drunk drivers are constitutionally permissable as long as law enforcement follows . . . guidelines to ensure their reasonableness.”
New York–DUI checkpoints are legal and conducted weekly.
North Carolina–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
North Dakota–DUI checkpoints are legal but not often conducted.
Ohio–DUI checkpoints are conducted regularly throughout the year.
Oklahoma–DUI checkpoints are conducted once or twice a month.
Oregon–DUI checkpoints are illegal under state constitution.
Pennsylvania–Pennsylvania conducts the third-most DUI checkpoints in America, at a rate of “several hundred per year.”
Rhode Island–DUI checkpoints are illegal by Rhode Island law.
South Carolina–DUI checkpoints are legal but not conducted regularly.
South Dakota–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Tennessee–DUI checkpoints are currently under challenge at the state Supreme Court level.
Texas— DUI checkpoints are illegal under Texas’ own interpretation of the Federal constitution.
Utah–DUI checkpoints are conducted six times a year.
Vermont–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Virginia–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Washington–DUI checkpoints are illegal by state law.
West Virginia–DUI checkpoints are conducted weekly.
Wisconsin–DUI checkpoints are prohibited by law.
Wyoming–DUI checkpoints are illegal due to the state’s interpretation of Federal roadblock statutes.