Yes, sobriety checkpoints are legal in Nevada. Also known as drunk driving sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks, they are routinely set up to check whether motorists are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Law enforcement detains every driver, ask questions, and may order them to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). Motorists who are suspected to be intoxicated or high get arrested for a DUI.
DUI checkpoints are often set up in high-traffic areas during the following holiday weekends or special events:
- New Year’s Eve
- St. Patrick’s Day
- Fourth of July
- The Wednesday before Thanksgiving
- Super Bowl
In order for a sobriety roadblock to be valid, police officers must follow four rules: (1) the checkpoint needs to be clearly visible to approaching traffic from 100 yards away, (2) a “Stop” sign must be placed near the centerline of the highway that is readable from 50 yards away, (3) a flashing red light at the side of the highway must be clearly visible to oncoming traffic 100 yards away, and (4) there needs to be warning signs (accompanied by a burning beam light, flare, or lantern) at the side of the highway at least a quarter mile from the checkpoint to notify oncoming traffic about it.
Police can set up checkpoints without having to notify the public first. Since the roadblock signs can be read from 100 yards away, they are supposed to serve as a sufficient warning. However, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) often does disclose sobriety checkpoints a few days in advance.
Keep in mind, a driver is allowed to take any legal detour to avoid going through a roadblock. However, a motorist may not make an improper turn or an illegal U-turn to escape a checkpoint.
Once a driver arrives at a roadblock, he or she must stop, answer the officers’ questions, and comply with their request. The driver may leave one when law enforcement says so.
Driving through a Nevada DUI checkpoint without stopping is considered a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 364 days and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Furthermore, if illegally driving through the checkpoint results in death, substantial bodily harm, or damage to property in excess of $1,000, the motorist faces a category B felony that is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of six years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
If you have been arrested for a DUI at a Nevada checkpoint, Turco & Draskovich are committed to helping you. Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys can determine whether or not the checkpoint was legal, the police administered a sobriety checkpoint correctly, or the police followed the same rules as a normal traffic stop.
For more information, contact us and request a free consultation today.