It is true that some states prohibit DUI/DWI checkpoints to check for impaired drivers, calling them a direct violation of drivers’ constitutional rights. New Mexico is not one of them. That said, that does not mean that you do not have any rights at a checkpoint. Brushing up on your rights at a DUI roadblock may be all the foundation you need to build a solid DUI defense, should you need one.
The Legality of DWI Checkpoints in New Mexico
New Mexico has one of the worst drunk driving problems in the nation, a fact that the state is attempting to combat with stricter enforcement efforts and harsher DUI/DWI penalties. Though drunk driving is a problem the state needs to address, combatting the issue should not come at the expense of residents’ rights. Albuquerque law enforcement agents must adhere to strict guidelines, which aim to both inform drivers of their rights and protect their abilities to exercise those rights should need be.
Your Constitutional Rights at a DWI Roadblock
Your rights at a DWI/DUI checkpoint differ slightly from those of a routine DUI traffic stop. During a routine traffic stop, an officer must still have reasonable suspicion and probable cause to stop a driver and request a breath or blood test. Probable cause may include swerving, erratic behavior and driving far above or below the speed limit. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has routinely ruled that because DUI checkpoints are conducted to prevent drunk driving, neither are needed at roadblocks.
However, an attending officer still needs reasonable suspicion to search your vehicle and make an arrest. At a roadblock, reasonable suspicion often comes in the form of a refusal to submit to a breath or blood test, an alcoholic beverage container in the cab of the vehicle, the smell of alcohol on your breath or breath test results that reveal a BAC of .08 or over.
Additional rights you should know are as follows:
- Officers must stop every vehicle to keep the checkpoint fair.
- Every suspect must be treated the same.
- The department must have informed the public of the general whereabouts of the checkpoint in advance. Surprise roadblocks are not permitted.
- You can and should decline a field sobriety test. You should do the same if the officer requests a breath or blood test, as implied consent violations are easier to fight than affirmative breath test results.
Aggressive DUI/DWI Defense
If you were stopped and arrested at a DUI/DWI checkpoint in Albuquerque or a nearby area, you need the skill and experience of a veteran DUI defense lawyer. Simon A. Kubiak has decades of experience defending the accused against DUI/DWI charges and other crimes, and he is prepared to go to bat for you. Contact Simon A. Kubiak, Attorneys At Law, PC (505) 998-6600 to discuss your rights and defense options today.