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Vegas DUI/Sobriety Checkpoints

Published April 1, 2020 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
Officer stopping a white car at a DUI/Sobriety checkpoint in Nevada

It’s no surprise that many people who visit or live in Las Vegas like to take advantage of all the city has to offer. They eat. They gamble. They drink. 

That last point can be a problem when the person also gets behind the wheel of a car. This is why sobriety checkpoints are so common in Las Vegas. You have rights, even when you’ve been stopped at a DUI checkpoint.

If you see flashing lights and a sign ahead of you, you may wonder, are DUI checkpoints legal? It could be tempting to just drive through or refuse to cooperate. Even if you haven’t had anything to drink that day, you may feel nervous about how they work.

At Adras & Altig, we don’t want anyone to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but we’re prepared to defend you if you’ve been accused of doing so. You deserve qualified representation and good advice. There are some things you should know about Las Vegas checkpoints. Here are the basics.

Nevada DUI Checkpoint Laws

Like the rest of the country, Nevada is bound by the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made sobriety checkpoints legal nationwide. The federal case is known as Michigan Department of State Police v Sitz. Nevada has also instituted its own DUI checkpoint laws.

According to Nevada law NRS 484B.570, “police officers in this State may establish, in their respective jurisdictions, administrative roadblocks upon the highways of this State for any lawful purpose….”

In layman’s terms, that means that police can set up roadblocks as DUI checkpoints in Las Vegas. Area law enforcement agencies frequently choose to do so. It may feel like you’re being asked to stop for no reason, but Nevada state and federal laws say that you have to comply.

Sobriety Checkpoints & the Fourth Amendment

When you ask yourself, “Are DUI checkpoints legal?” you’re joining a large crowd. In fact, it’s something that legal scholars and alcoholic drinks on a serving boardconstitutional experts debate to this day.

Despite 30 years of precedent, many drivers continue to believe that sobriety checkpoints should be unconstitutional. Some people think that the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution should protect Nevadans and all citizens of the United States from DUI checkpoints.

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. People who focus on constitutional law argue that blanket stops like DUI checkpoints are unreasonable, and therefore should be excluded by the Fourth Amendment. In 1990, the Supreme Court disagreed. That’s why you can expect that sobriety checkpoints on Las Vegas roads will continue unless and until the court revisits the issue.

Penalties for Refusing or Driving Through a Checkpoint in Las Vegas

It’s probably not a good idea to bet on the Supreme Court overturning its precedent in time for you to skip a checkpoint. Nevada DUI checkpoint law institutes specific penalties for refusing or driving through the barrier. NRS 484B.580 makes it illegal to drive through a checkpoint in Nevada. You could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony for doing so, depending on whether you injure anyone in the process.

Speeding through a police barrier is a pretty extreme choice. You may think it would be better to just refuse a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. Unfortunately, that may backfire too.

NRS 484C.150 states that you give your implied consent when you get behind the wheel. You can lose your license for refusing, just like you would for being found guilty of driving under the influence. It’s safer to cooperate and contact a criminal defense lawyer to help defend you from the drunk driving allegation.

At Adras & Altig, we can defend your rights and help you keep your license.

What Are My Rights During a Field Sobriety Test?

You don’t lose all your rights just because you’re stopped at a checkpoint and the police administer a field sobriety test. You still have the right to not incriminate yourself, to remain silent, and to get a lawyer.

It’s important to cooperate with authorities to the extent required by law. You need to identify yourself by providing your license. Resisting or reacting violently will only result in additional, more serious charges. Instead, be polite, but remember your rights.

You should cooperate with the field sobriety test, but you don’t have to answer questions. If they ask if you’ve been drinking or smoking marijuana, you don’t have to answer. Instead, keep quiet and ask to call a lawyer.

If you didn’t drink but used prescribed or illegal drugs, you can still be charged with a DUI. Local outlet Fox 5 Vegas has reported that Nevada authorities are treating driving high with the same seriousness as drunk driving.

When you are stopped at a checkpoint, you can and should expect respect. The officers can’t act in a racist, sexist, or otherwise illegal manner. If they behave in any unprofessional manner you have the right to;

  • ask the officer for their name and badge number
  • you can also record them with your cell phone

Just remember to keep calm and behave respectfully.

Know When to Call a Las Vegas DUI Lawyer

It’s important to protect your rights after you’ve been accused of driving under the influence. After you’re stopped at a Vegas DUI checkpoint, call a qualified Nevada DUI lawyer, like ours at Adras & Altig.

If the officers violated your civil rights or inappropriately accused you of DUI despite your sobriety, we can mount a vigorous defense on your behalf. We’ll investigate your arrest and explore ways we can reduce your charges or even get them dropped. Field sobriety tests are debated by legal experts because some people consider them unfair. We’ll do everything in our power to defend you from unmerited charges.

If you’ve been stopped at a Nevada DUI checkpoint and need a qualified, thoughtful lawyer, we’ve got you covered. The respected attorneys at Adras & Altig want the best for our clients, and we know that you’re more than just a case number or a paycheck. As a firm, we work together as a team to ensure the best results for our clients.

Call us or contact us online now for a free case evaluation. Be sure to read our last blog about a special offer on misdemeanor fees here.

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