We’re starting to see more and more DWI checkpoints here in Charlotte and throughout Mecklenburg County. Police departments are setting them up more frequently given the success in making DWI arrests. Here in Charlotte NC, we love our professional local teams, including the Charlotte Panthers, Bobcats, Checkers and Knights. But, at virtually every sports game and after every concert, you can now expect to come up on a “license” or DWI checkpoint. But not all DWI checkpoints are proper. We have to first establish whether these police checkpoints can pass a Constitutional review. Next, we need to determine whether the checkpoints are being operated in accordance with proper procedure and that your 4th Amendment rights are not being unduly infringed. And finally, for those who see “blue lights” up ahead and turn around thinking it is an accident, we have to make sure that the officer has a basis to stop you thinking somehow that you were trying to “avoid” the checkpoint.
Our Constitution and its accompaning Bill of Rights mandates that we are to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” and that police should not be able to stop us without “reasonable suspicion” of a crime. However, with DWI checkpoints, courts allow this rather clear violation provided certain protections are provided. Primarily, judges look to see whether these intrusions are conducted in a reasonable, impartial manner and that the “stop” is limited in both time and scope. We allow DWI checkpoints given the interest in deterring DWI cases and preventing serious injury and/or death from DWI accidents. In reviewing a DWI checkpoint case, an experienced Charlotte DWI lawyer will examine whether the checkpoint itself meets these standards.
The next inquiry to be made in Charlotte DWI checkpoints cases is whether the checkpoint, once set up, is conducted in a proper manner. Police are not permitted to set up a DWI checkpoint when they are really looking for drugs, stolen property, or really any type of crime. These stops for general criminal investigation would be deemed improper and unConstitutional. As a result, an experienced DWI attorney would inquire about how many and what types of officers were present and what were the intent and purpose of their participation. If a judge finds the conduct unacceptable, the arrest would be nullified and the resulting charges dismissed.
One final area that we see frequently is the scenario where a client sees “blue lights” up ahead in traffic and turns around thinking it is an accident. Naturally, they want to avoid a long delay stuck in traffic, so they turn to leave the area. Meanwhile, police are watching for such “turn arounds” and engage in pursuit believing this is a “drunk” driver trying to avoid the DWI checkpoint. In some cases, the police are correct. But, in others, it is an unnecessary stop that can take up valuable time for everyone. Simply turning away from blue lights is not an indication of impairment and does not, by itself, provide the required “reasonable suspicion” to warrant a traffic stop. This is another potential defense if you are caught up in the DWI checkpoints maze.
Attorney Robert J. Reeves has been a practicing trial lawyer for 25 years. He is an experienced DWI attorney here in Charlotte and would welcome an opportunity to personally meet and review your particular DWI case. Every case is unique, and the outcome depends on the individual circumstances. Little details can make a big difference in whether you are found guilty or acquitted of your DWI charge. It is important to compare lawyers and their credentials so that you can make the best choice of who will represent you. And Mr. Reeves is available to speak with you in the evenings and weekends when you need answers. You can call him directly on his mobile phone 704-351-7979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to getting you the answers you need to know.
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