DUI Checkpoints in Nevada: Understanding the Procedures & Consequences
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We’ve all been there. Coming home from wherever, and down the road are the flashing lights and the road cones to make separate lanes and the many, many police vehicles. You’re probably in a high-traffic area on a holiday weekend or in Las Vegas a special event weekend like a big concert or a fight.
DUI checkpoints are usually done during busy nights or holiday weekends when more people are likely to drive under the influence.
The idea of the DUI checkpoint is to deter drunk driving and arrest people who have been driving under the influence.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will usually publish where and when these checkpoints will take place.
All drivers going through the DUI checkpoints get stopped, not just the ones who are under suspicion of drunk driving.
During these checkpoints, the police will arrest the driver that they believe has been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
How DUI Checkpoints Work
As mentioned, everyone who goes through a DUI checkpoint is stopped.
The DUI checkpoint is legal but needs to be seen from one hundred yards away in either direction.
There are specific rules and guidelines the police must follow when running a DUI checkpoint.
For example, the police can either pull over every vehicle or a specific set of criteria, like all vehicles with license plates starting with the letter A, as long as the criteria are not discriminatory in any way.
Once a driver is stopped they will be asked a series of questions that will be asked to everyone.
Also at night, the officers may shine the flashlight in your vehicle to make sure you’re not violating the open container laws and see how your appearance is.
Once you have answered the questions and the police think you are fine, you can go about continuing with your drive.
On the other hand, if the police have any evidence or probable cause to assume you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol you will be asked to pull over to a coned-off area on the side of the road where other officers will ask you more questions. Here, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test or a preliminary breath test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).
If the police suspect you are under the influence, you may be arrested for suspicion of DUI.
What Are DUI Blitzes
In 2021 the LVMPD started using a blitz technique.
Instead of checking every driver coming through one cordoned-off area, extra police are placed on patrol to actively seek out suspected DUI drivers throughout the city.
Blitzes take place about one or twice a month.
DUI Checkpoint Penalties
Believe it or not, there have been people who don’t stop at the DUI checkpoint. This is not a wise decision but it has been done.
Under NRS484B.580, not stopping at a DUI checkpoint is a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of
- 364 in jail and/or
- $2000 in fines
If the driver causes a death or substantial bodily harm or more than $1000 in property damage the charges, then the charges become a Class B Felony with a penalty of:
- 1-6 years in Nevada State prison
- Up to $25,000 in fines
If you are also eventually stopped and pulled over after not stopping at a DUI checkpoint and the police believe you are under the influence, you can be charged with both suspicion of DUI and failure to stop at a DUI checkpoint.
Like DUI arrests, the charges for a DUI checkpoint can be reduced or dismissed by using the following defenses:
- The driver followed the police directions-the driver stopped, answered all questions, and complied with all of their requests. This is the requirement during a DUI checkpoint stop. Anyone who has been through a DUI checkpoint knows how chaotic it is with so many cars and people. Maybe you did everything right but they got the wrong person.
- The checkpoint was not legal-The police must follow 4 rules to make sure the DUI checkpoint is legal, if any one of the rules are not followed then the DUI checkpoint may not be legal. If Your defense attorney can prove this then the charges should be dismissed or reduced.
- The police committed misconduct-The police must follow the same rules of a regular traffic stop when stopping someone at a DUI checkpoint. This includes asking questions, performing preliminary breath tests, and possibly administering field sobriety tests.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
DUI checkpoints are legal in Nevada, however law enforcement must follow these specific 4 rules to be considered legal.
If any of these rules are not followed, a good defense attorney can dispute that the DUI checkpoint was not legal or valid.
- The checkpoint must be clearly visible to oncoming traffic in either direction from 100 yards away.
- A STOP sign must be placed near the centerline of the highway that is readable from 50 yards away.
- A flashing red light at the side of the highway must be clearly visible to oncoming traffic 100 yards away; and
- There must be warning signs at the side of the highway at least a quarter-mile from the roadblock to notify oncoming traffic about it. Also, these signs must be accompanied by a burning beam light, a flair, or a lantern to attract attention.
If the police fail to follow any of the protocols the charge of driving through a DUI checkpoint can be reduced or dismissed.
Where Do Police Commonly Set Up DUI Checkpoints
Police can set up DUI or sobriety checkpoints on nearly every public road throughout Las Vegas including Henderson and North Las Vegas.
The most common streets where the LVMPD but DUI checkpoints are:
- Blue Diamond Rd.
- Buffalo Dr.
- Decatur Blvd.
- Frank Sinatra Dr.
- Paradise Rd.
- Russell Ave.
- Tropicana Dr.
- Vegas Dr.
Can I Turn Around if I See a Checkpoint in the Distance
You can turn around if you have warning signs of an upcoming DUI checkpoint in Nevada.
The driver can take any legal detour or turnoff prior to entering the checkpoint.
The driver, however, may not make an illegal U-turn or an improper turn to avoid the DUI roadblock.
How Can a DUI Attorney Help Me if I’m Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint?
A DUI attorney in Las Vegas can help you investigate the police actions that they took during the DUI checkpoint stop.
If the police acted unlawfully or acted outside of their jurisdiction or conducted stops in a discriminatory manner, the entire investigation and arrest may be unlawful. Bringing illegal police activity to the court’s attention and getting the charges dismissed are the job of your defense team.
Your Las Vegas DUI lawyer can help address all possible defenses to get the charges of DUI or passing through a DUI checkpoint dropped or reduced. Most people who are arrested for suspicion of DUI have no prior interaction with the court system.
Anyone that is arrested under suspicion of DUI should hire a DUI specialist attorney immediately. Some things are required immediately after the arrest to avoid the worst penalties. A defense team specializing in DUI offenses knows what those are and can handle them in a timely manner that they need to be handled.
Why Call The Defenders
The Defenders is a group of lawyers that has been defending clients in Nevada for years.
Since we have been in Las Vegas for so long we have built relationships with people working in the court including the prosecutor’s offices, sheriff’s department, court clerks, and most importantly the judges.
We specialize in DUI cases and have experts on the subject that work in our law offices.
We take local clients as well as clients who were here on either business or vacation when they were arrested for DUI. Anyone who lives out of state and was arrested in Nevada should hire an attorney in Nevada and not from out of state since an in-state attorney is more familiar with the Nevada laws.
The Defenders can start to investigate your case the minute we first meet. We will give you an honest case review and what you should expect so there are no surprises.
Call The Defenders today for a case review if you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI or arrested for running a DUI checkpoint.