DUI Checkpoints

DUI Checkpoints in South Carolina

Are DUI checkpoints legal in South Carolina?  The answer to that question is, it depends.  Police must follow certain guidelines when setting up the checkpoints or risk violating the 4th Am. Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC and today we’re talking about DUI checkpoints in South Carolina.

Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?

While DUI checkpoints are generally lawful in South Carolina there are limits and they must satisfy certain constitutional requirements because they involve the seizure of persons.

Because the 4th Amendment is triggered in these cases the cornerstone analysis for any 4th Am. review is reasonableness.  Was the seizure at the DUI checkpoint reasonable under the constitution?  To meet that burden, our courts have established a three-part test for determining the constitutionality of a DUI checkpoint: Courts will weigh

  • The gravity of the public interest served by the seizure;
  • The degree to which the seizure serves the public interest; and
  • The severity of the interference with individual liberty.

The first factor can be met because preventing drunk drivers serves a public interest for roadway safety.  Interestingly, police cannot set up checkpoints where the primary purpose is general crime control.  They must have a defines stated purpose that is constitutionally accepted and non-specific crime control violates the 4th Am.

The second factor is where most legal challenges occur.  The degree that the checkpoint serves the public interest must be shown by what is call empirical evidence.  Police must show proof that such stops would be an effective means of promoting roadway safety.  To do this they typically need to show evidence that validates the checkpoint at the location in question.

And lastly the interference with your liberty must be balanced.  That means the initial contact with motorists should be kept brief unless police suspect impairment, then the motorist should be directed out of the flow of traffic.  The checkpoint must be well lit, there needs to be a plan in place, proper training for the officers on site, a supervisor must be on site and motorists must be stopped in a specified manner such as every motorist or every second or third etc.  The checkpoint must be announced before to ensure the safety of motorists.

This is why you need an attorney in a DU checkpoint case because if you do not request that specific information from the government to see if they complied with the 4th Am. you won’t know if police violated those constitutional requirements.

Charleston, SC DUI Attorney

So, if have been arrested for DUI at a checkpoint and have questions about your case, please call me at (843) 530-7813.  I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.


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