Many drivers are often surprised when they approach a checkpoint, are confused what to do, and certainly need to know their rights if they have been drinking. Especially with the summer months upon us, the police seem to be conducting more and more of these type of checkpoints largely from the 4th of July to Labor Day.

Then the question turns to where do Officers conduct these type of checkpoints? By looking at the controlling precedent, State vs. Rose, a North Carolina Supreme we can tell where these checkpoints will likely be conducted at and what driver’s rights are when approaching them.

In determining if a checkpoint is legal or constitutional, the North Carolina Supreme court stated it must have 1) a primary purpose and 2) must be reasonable in the way it is conducted or carried out. The court stated any type of driving violation can be considered a primary purpose. Such as expired registration or inspection, not having a driver’s license, or driving while impaired. So really almost any reason, the police can conduct a checkpoint but it still must be reasonable. This reasonableness will determine where these checkpoints are located.

In Mecklenburg County, these checkpoints are usually conducted on Friday or Saturday nights, typically late at night and stop usually after bars and restaurants have closed. In addition, these checkpoints are held in areas where a large number of drunk driving accidents occur or major thoroughfares leading out of the city or near centrally located bars. Just this past weekend, such a checkpoint was conducted on June 22, 2012 on Providence Road near the Queens Road/Providence Road interchange. Another location, I have seen many checkpoints being held are located on Park Road, near Tyvola or near the Dilworth area. There are many clusters of bars in the Charlotte area, Uptown has hundreds of bars and restaurant, in addition the areas of Montford, Plaza Midwood, NoDa, and the University area have a pockets of bars and see thousands of patrons each weekend.

Officers are well aware of these locations and routinely set up checkpoints outside and around them on Friday and Saturday nights. The best way to avoid a checkpoint is to not drive, taking a taxi or a cab is always the safest and best option. However, with the legal limit being so low, many people think they are ok to drive but maybe right at the limit above or below it, so its always good to be prepared for anything.

See our next blog which outlines what to do if you are faced with a checkpoint.