Written by attorney Jon Forrest Erickson

DUI: Roadside Safety Checks or a Leap-Frog of the 4th Amendment

The Chicago Police are employing so called “road-side safety checks" with increasing regularity. Road-side safety checks or DUI roadblocks are temporary stations set up by Chicago Police to search drivers in order to find drivers who are under the influence of alcohol.

The Chicago Police often utilize this techinique under the guise of a seat belt check, when they are really looking for a way around the requisite probable cause to stop a motorist. At a seat-belt check you do not have to roll down your window; the officer is suppossed to merely look into your car and determine if you are wearing a seat-belt. It is not cause for him to search your car or ask you for your license and insurance. If you are wearing your seatbelt (which you always should), he is required to simply wave you on.

To meet the requirements of our Constituion, the Chicago Police are required by law to notify the public of the location and times of up-coming roadblocks. The law also requires that officers either stop every vehicle or use a specific pattern to stop certain cars on a public road to investigate if drivers are impaired. For example, they may pull over every fourth vehicle, but cannot just randomly pull over any car they choose. The police will use orange traffic cones to define checkpoint areas and place an officer, called the “point officer" at the biginning of the cones who will direct which cars to pull into the make-shift lane for a check.

If you find yourself at a road-side safety check, be sure to note the sequence of stops the officers make.

The law also requires that a DUI road-side saftety check be as least instrusive as possible. This means no long lines and long delays. Take notes as to how long you waited in line. If you don’t have paper and pen, text notes to yourself.

These checkpoints are often set up late at night or early in the morning. If the officer asks you to search your car, it’s usually because he doesn’t have the legal authority or constitutional grounds to search. You have every right to refuse him permission.

Remember that you also have the right to refuse all sobiriety tests and breathylyzer tests–espicially the very unreliable and inadmissable portable breath test (PBT). You don’t have to give the officer the evidence or probable cause he needs to arrest and charge you.

The police are using the road side safety check as way to leap frog the 4th Amendment. You don't have to let them.

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