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Is stopping at DUI checkpoints legally required?

Many law enforcement agencies throughout the country use checkpoints in an attempt to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel of their vehicles after drinking. The question becomes whether Utah drivers are legally required to stop at DUI checkpoints. As is the case with other legal issues, the answer is complicated. 

The first question that needs to be answered is whether these checkpoints are even legal in Utah. The simple answer is that they have been legal since 1992. However, law enforcement agencies cannot simply set up such a checkpoint without first adhering to certain parameters. First, a court order must be obtained to conduct such an operation.

Thereafter, the public must be notified before the checkpoint takes place. This gives drivers the option to avoid the area if they choose. However, for those vehicles that do approach the location, their ability to avoid being stopped is somewhat limited. If a driver attempts to perform an illegal maneuver in order to avoid the checkpoint, he or she could face legal consequences. One source indicates that police could charge a driver with disorderly conduct under these circumstances.

For those drivers who are arrested on suspicion of DUI, it would be in their best interest to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible in order to ensure that their rights are protected. Just because an individual is taken into custody for driving under the influence does not necessarily mean that the charges will stand. Even if the arrest was legal, it is not a foregone conclusion that the driver will be found guilty. The charges must still be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law before any penalties can be imposed on an accused individual.

Source: good4utah.com, "Do Drivers Have to Stop at DUI Checkpoints?", Glen Beeby, April 29, 2016

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