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630-472-9700Available 24/7

Drunk Driving Prevention: DUI Roadblocks in Illinois

Posted on in DUI

DUIThough the state’s highest court vested the Illinois State Police the power to conduct DUI checkpoints beginning in 1985, the practice has recently re-emerged on our roads. In late August, a roadblock in Winnebago County caught three individuals suspected of driving under the influence. A few days later, police arrested another driver for crashing into a police cruiser stationed at a DUI checkpoint in Caseyville. These roadblocks, though seemingly effective, have always been controversial. Residents still question the legality of roadblocks on their roads and wonder what the officers that stop them are and are not allowed to inquire about during the stop.

What is a DUI Roadblock?

A DUI roadblock, also sometimes referred to as a DUI checkpoint, is a station set up on roads that requires drivers to stop at the officer’s request. Usually these stops will stop every car, or every third car, for example. The officers are generally looking for signs of intoxication, but may also check for seatbelt violations, compliance with state licensure requirements, or other vehicle issues such as broken lights. Officers present are not allowed to select cars at random based on arbitrary characteristics. Note also that while these are DUI, or “driving under the influence,” roadblocks in Illinois, the same effect is achieved in other states with a DWI roadblock, simply re-named “driving while intoxicated.”

What Can Officers Ask Me at These DUI Roadblocks?

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issued guidelines for officers’ investigations at roadblocks. While state and local police agencies may have their own requirements, each state is responsible for ensuring their actions are in compliance with state and federal law. Checking for intoxication at roadside stops became legal after the 1975 United States Supreme Court case United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, which examined the legality of such stops in light of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Opponents of roadblocks believe that officers frequently violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights at these blocks, suggesting that those passing through are not familiar with their rights in refusing to speak to officers.

The 1985 Illinois case People v. Bartley extended this rationale and explicitly granted Illinois officers the ability to conduct such stops. Recently, however, these practices are raising new challenges since nine states, including Illinois, began conducting “No Refusal” practices. This means that in certain situations, drivers that are suspected of impaired driving and refuse to take sobriety tests may be required to take a blood test. While the federal and state courts already addressed the legality of roadblocks in Illinois generally, the possibility of increased opposition is likely, given these new measures.

What to Do at a Roadblock

If you or someone you know has been stopped by police at a roadblock, it is critical for you to understand your rights. The state has many requirements it must strictly follow to legally conduct these stops. For example, agencies must have written policies in place, must provide drivers adequate notice of upcoming roadblock stops to motorists, and often must have specific selection criteria to ensure randomness.

In the absence of these formalities or other police misconduct, you may have an opportunity to fight your case. The legalities surrounding roadblocks and DUIs in Illinois can be complex, and it is important to have experienced DuPage County DUI attorneys on your side to defend your case. Please feel free to contact the attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 to learn more about your options and what you should do going forward. We maintain offices in Oak Brook and Naperville for your convenience, but work extensively in Cook, DuPage, Will, and Kane County, as well as surrounding areas.

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