Las Vegas DUI Checkpoints
Nevada takes a strong stance against drunk driving, and Las Vegas DUI checkpoints are a critical part of this effort. With approximately 100 fatalities and thousands of injuries resulting from alcohol-related crashes annually in Nevada, Las Vegas checkpoints are essential in preventing loss of life and financial damages.
One tool in the state’s arsenal to combat drunk driving is the DUI checkpoint. Years ago, there was some dispute about whether checkpoints were constitutional, but that issue has been decided. If you have never confronted a DUI checkpoint, you might be confused about the process for passing through one. The Las Vegas drunk driving accident attorneys at Naqvi Injury Law provide more detail below.
Table of Contents
What Are DUI Checkpoints?
While primarily for detecting drunk drivers, officers may also check for drug use, leading to further testing if suspicion arises.
A DUI checkpoint is an exception. Police set them up on various roads around Las Vegas, particularly on nights when they expect many people to be out drinking and driving. You will know you are approaching a checkpoint because traffic will probably be stopped up a bit as the police talk to drivers.
Each checkpoint is handled a little differently depending on the traffic. Sometimes, the police will stop every vehicle that passes through, while at other times they might stop every second or third vehicle. The key point is that the stops are basically random.
At the stop, the police will ask to see your license and registration. They also ask simple questions, such as where you are going and where you are traveling from. Officers are typically looking for signs you are drunk—alcohol on your breath, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, etc. If the officer suspects you have been drinking (or committing another crime), the officer will ask you to pull over. They will probably administer field sobriety tests and a breath test.
Navigating Las Vegas DUI Checkpoints: What to Expect
If you’re unfamiliar with Las Vegas DUI checkpoints, here’s how they generally work:
- Location and Frequency: Police set up checkpoints on various Las Vegas roads, especially on nights with expected high drinking activity.
- Random Stops: The stops are typically random, with police sometimes stopping every vehicle or every second or third vehicle.
- Identification and Questions: Officers will ask for your license and registration and may inquire about your travel plans, looking for signs of intoxication.
- Field Sobriety Tests: If suspicion arises, you may be asked to pull over for sobriety tests and a breath test.
Common Las Vegas Checkpoints Locations
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department may announce DUI checkpoint locations, including common areas like:
- Blue Diamond Rd
- Frank Sinatra Drive
- Harrison Drive
- Paradise Rd
- Tropicana Ave
Nevada law requires that roadblocks be visible from 100 yards away, with clear signage and stop signs. Police also need to put up a warning sign, even when constructing a checkpoint in a rural area. These requirements give drivers notice that they are approaching a roadblock.
Las Vegas Checkpoints: Beyond Alcohol
How to Legally Avoid Las Vegas DUI Checkpoints
It is not against the law to avoid a roadblock. However, you need to avoid it legally. You can avoid the roadblock but cannot do so in a way that violates a traffic law, such as pulling an illegal U-Turn. You can take a side street and avoid the roadblock if you want and doing so does not give the police a valid reason for pursuing you and pulling you over.
Can You Refuse a DUI Checkpoint in Nevada?
Constitutional Considerations of Las Vegas Checkpoints
Though some believed DUI checkpoints violated the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld them in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz (1990), citing minimal intrusion and public interest.
Roadblocks obviously violate the probable cause requirement. Officers stop people at a checkpoint for no other reason than that the driver is on the road. Many people believed that they were unconstitutional for this reason and that the United States Supreme Court would strike them down.
That didn’t happen, however. Instead, the court upheld DUI checkpoints as constitutional in a 1990 case, Michigan Department of State Police v. Sits. The Court’s reasoning was that any delay was minimal. The Court also held that the types of questions asked at a roadblock were not sufficiently intrusive to raise Fourth Amendment concerns.
At the same time, the Supreme Court reasoned, checkpoints have the potential to catch many drunk drivers and save lives, so the minimal intrusion into a driver’s privacy was outweighed by the public interest.
Illegal Checkpoints in Las Vegas: Know Your Rights
Tips for Passing Through a Las Vegas DUI Checkpoint
While you must provide identification, you’re not legally required to answer questions. Some people recommend that you put your license, registration, and insurance inside a plastic bag and hand it over before quickly rolling your window back up. Others recommend simply pressing these documents into the glass so that the officer can read them.
We are not sure about the legality of taking those steps. If anything, an officer probably will claim he can’t see the license clearly enough through a window, so he will request that you roll it down.
Contact Las Vegas Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers
At Naqvi Injury Law, we specialize in representing victims of drunk driving accidents in Las Vegas. If you’ve been affected, contact us for a free consultation, and let our experienced team assist you.