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Are sobriety checkpoints legal in Nevada?


No one enjoys being pulled over by the police, especially when they believe they have been following the rules of the road and have not done anything wrong. This may especially be true when a sober driver is stopped at a DUI checkpoint. Nevada statutes permit police to set up sobriety checkpoints. However, the question is still often raised as to whether DUI checkpoints are legal.

Sobriety checkpoints are set up in order to identify drunk drivers. They often take place around holidays where many people will be drinking, such as Labor Day weekend. Due to the random selection process used, a DUI checkpoint will inevitably cause even sober drivers to be stopped by police for no apparent reason. Therefore, some may wonder whether this is an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of a driver's Fourth Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court examined this issue, and it decided that sobriety checkpoints are lawful.

First, it needs to be understood that in certain circumstances, a search that is "reasonable" can take place even if the police do not have a warrant. When it comes to traditional DUI stops, such stops are usually considered to be reasonable, as probable cause exists to believe the law has been broken.

Random searches and seizures generally are not determined to be reasonable. However, sobriety checkpoints are an exception. The Supreme Court determined that the state's interest in stopping collisions caused by drunk drivers outweighed the minimal intrusion imposed on sober motorists stopped at DUI checkpoints.

So, per state and federal law, DUI checkpoints are generally legal in Nevada. However, drivers charged with DUI after being stopped at a valid sobriety checkpoint may still have criminal defense options available. For example, they could challenge the accuracy of a breath test or claim that the field sobriety tests were improperly administered. In any case, those charged with DUI at a checkpoint will want to seek professional guidance, so they can determine the best course of action to take.

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