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Why are DUI checkpoints announced?

Posted on July 24, 2019

You probably have seen on the news an announcement of an upcoming DUI checkpoint somewhere in or around Breckenridge. When you see this announcement, you may think how silly it is to tell everyone there is a checkpoint. How will law enforcement catch anyone driving drunk if everyone knows where they are? This is a common question. Most people wonder why law enforcement tells everyone about a DUI checkpoint. The answer is actually more complex than you may think.

According to Guardian Interlock, the answer has to do with civil rights and a legal case in Michigan that led to DUI checkpoints having to be announced beforehand. In 1990, there was a case that came to court about the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints. The defendant said these checkpoints were an illegal search and therefore illegal. The court disagreed, saying they are legal but to avoid legal issues, law enforcement must announce them to the public.

Some other states have since determined them to be illegal and they are banned in those states. Colorado is not one of them, but due to the precedent set by that Michigan case, the state has to announce them before law enforcement may carry one out.

What may be more surprising than why law enforcement must announce these checkpoints is that the publication of them does not really hinder law enforcement in catching drunk drivers. The reality is that when someone wants to drive drunk, they will do it even if they know the chances are high they will get caught. This information is for education and is not legal advice.