In our last several posts, we’ve been speaking on the issue of sobriety checkpoints, their effectiveness, and the factors courts in Louisiana look at when determining their legality. Last time, we listed a number of these factors, and pointed out that it is essential to balance the government’s interest in preventing drunk driving with the public’s interest in privacy.
Applying this principle to the location, time and duration of the roadblock, courts are going to want to make sure that a sobriety checkpoint is minimally disruptive to traffic, doesn’t cause safety concerns, and that motorists aren’t held for a longer period of time than is necessary to determine whether they are intoxicated. A roadblock which causes undue anxiety for motorists, or which presents a traffic safety concern or which involves lengthy detainment of motorists is going to be suspect.
A sobriety checkpoint is not necessarily going to be invalid solely on the basis that it is not announced to the public beforehand, but it could make a difference if several factors contribute to an unreasonable level of intrusiveness. Similarly, if police fail to notify motorists that they are heading toward a roadblock, this can also contribute to the intrusiveness factor. In itself it may not make or break the legality of the sobriety checkpoint, but it can do so in connection with other factors, including those listed above.
Those who feel they have been subjected to a questionable roadblock should not hesitate to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.