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How To Handle Sobriety Checkpoints in Virginia (Part A)

Law enforcement agencies across the U.S., including Virginia, are always concocting new methods to arrest people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One such method is the deployment of sobriety checkpoints, which are situations that can easily entrap a sober driver who is literally in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What is a Sobriety Checkpoint?

A sobriety checkpoint is a location where authorities aim to catch motorists who are driving under the influence (DUI) without having to chase them down and pull them over. The goal of a Virginia sobriety checkpoint is to let the supposed DUI offenders come to the police officers instead of the other way around. 

Sobriety checkpoints consist of police agencies setting up roadblocks intended to funnel all traffic to a certain point. These roadblocks are often set up: 

  • on highways leading out of town
  • on streets that are connected to bar districts and entertainment areas
  • right before or after bridges connecting an island from the mainland 

Finding Where Sobriety Checkpoints Are Located

One of the caveats of setting up sobriety checkpoints is that the law enforcement agencies who oversee them must publicize their locations well in advance of their implementation. You can learn about these locations: 

  • in newspapers, TV or radio alerts
  • on websites or in online databases
  • on pre-recorded phone messages operated by police or the community itself 

In other words, you can find out exactly where these Virginia sobriety checkpoints will be operating at any given time. It is both your prerogative and your right to know where these roadblocks will be before you head out for a night of entertainment.

It is common practice for law enforcement officials to utilize sobriety checkpoints on or around holidays. The conventional wisdom is that people may be more likely to consume alcohol around times when they have a day off from work. Common holidays during which sobriety checkpoints are employed include: 

  • Memorial Day
  • Labor Day
  • Independence Day
  • Christmas
  • New Year's Day
  • Thanksgiving 

There are other holidays where you may see sobriety checkpoints even though workers generally don't receive time off for them. These include: 

  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Mardi Gras
  • Halloween 

 

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Bob Battle
100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts