DUI Checkpoints Near Me – Police Checkpoints – Sobriety Roadblocks
By: DUI Defense Lawyer Harley O. Wagner – The Wagner Law Firm
Where Am I Likely to Encounter a Police Checkpoint in West Virginia?
After having alcoholic beverages, many drivers will use their cell phone to search for “find DUI checkpoints near me.” Unlike California, where many online sobriety checkpoint services (e.g., Mr. Checkpoint) or checkpoint apps revealing current police roadblocks near me, West Virginia does not have that luxury.
Because our state is so “spread out” and not concentrated in one or two big cities, online information for DUI checkpoints near me is not available. A lot of our clients get a first DUI at a checkpoint stop.
In counties all across West Virginia, “police checkpoints near me” can be set up to intercept possible drunk drivers at pre-approved checkpoint locations in West Virginia. Since a higher concentration of motorists will be found in higher population areas, check points most likely will be in towns like Charleston, Martinsburg, Charles Town, Wheeling, and Morgantown.
If you happen upon a roadblock, do not turn around and try and avoid it. The police will post a chase car that will catch up to you and pull you over.
In reality, Morgantown WV is the most likely place to find a checkpoint. Morgantown police are aware that certain sporting events and concerts in Monongalia County will increase the number of drinking drivers, and law enforcement officers may have a DUI roadblock on a primary traffic road leading away from the sports venue or entertainment location.
West Virginia has about two dozen towns with populations of 40,000 or more. Although not as often as DUI checkpoints are set up in Morgantown WV following West Virginia University football game or other sporting events, Charleston DUI checkpoints also occur regularly, and are usually manned by the City of Charleston Police Department – Special Enforcement Unit.
WV DUI checkpoints are legal in West Virginia, for two reasons. First is your protection under the United States Constitution, through the 4th Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures, warrantless arrests (i.e., use of blue lights to pull you over, without an articulable suspicion of a traffic violation or vehicle equipment violation, to justify a pullover).
Our U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz case from 1990, that sobriety checkpoints are illegal UNLESS the law enforcement agency has put in place some “controls” to assure minimum impact on the driving public, and that these police checkpoints are only implemented by supervisory officers under non-discriminatory policies and procedures.
The second barrier to DUI checkpoints would be a state constitutional or statutory provision that banned warrantless traffic stops, like sobriety checkpoints. About a dozen states (e.g., New Hampshire, Texas, Massachusetts, Louisiana) have these more protective laws, and do NOT allow DUI checkpoint stops, like those the police post in WV.
No provision in the WV Code or Constitution prevents West Virginia police from following the same rules as established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Sitz.
The West Virginia Legislature CAN pass such a law, banning such warrantless police encounters, but no such bill is likely to be enacted to stop DUI checkpoint locations in WV.
Police Must Publicize Planned DUI Checkpoints
Police departments that plan WV DUI check points are legally required to post a scheduled sobriety checkpoint ahead of time, noting the location, date, and time (hours of operation) of the roadblock. This publicity is a component of the deterrent use of checkpoints, since it puts fear in motorists who may be planning to drink and drive.
Despite giving West Virginia citizens advanced notice of WV DUI checkpoint locations and times, police departments continue to arrest hundreds of people for driving under the influence of alcohol and, increasingly, under the influence of drugs, both prescription and illegal drugs. Too often, drivers are focused on their concert or sporting event, and not paying attention to news about planned roadblocks for DUI enforcement.
Police Regulations Require an Alternate Route to Avoid Screening at DUI Checkpoints WV
Police checkpoints in West Virginia must be set up at places that permit an approaching motorist to turn down an adjacent street before entering the roadblock. The law enforcement officers at police checkpoint locations in WV must also allow drivers to have an alternate route for an approaching car to be able avoid the inconvenience of the sobriety checkpoint altogether.
This requirement is different than allowing a driver to “turn around” at WV DUI checkpoints and go back in the opposite direction before entering the DUI check ahead. If the police believe you intentionally avoided their safety check by turning around in a parking lot, or making an illegal U-turn, a police car will catch up with you and pull you over. DUI check point pursuit vehicles are sometimes referred to by law enforcement officers as the “chase car.”
News stories in West Virginia have reported some drivers seeing police checkpoints ahead, and jumping from their car and fleeing on foot. People facing an aggravated DUI know what is ahead of them, and will not always use the best judgment, when they see a DUI checkpoint coming up.
In addition to a possible DUI charge, the driver can be charged with fleeing from law enforcement, or possibly obstruction, when a physical altercation occurs between the driver and a screening officer.
Police Errors at DUI Checkpoints WV Work in Your Favor
Harley Wagner will diligently investigate police errors made at a police checkpoint, including the related DUI investigation and arrest for driving while intoxicated. Harley is able to do this by reviewing all check point police documentation, and analyzing your WV DUI arrest video that was recorded by an officer’s dash cam or body camera.
For example, if the officer incorrectly instructed, demonstrated, or scored the field sobriety tests, or gave you no instruction at all, these omissions will be asserted, for your benefit, by your DUI defense attorney.
Roadblocks are not some special “rite of passage” for police, because these warrantless police intrusions are presumptively a violation of the 4th Amendment that protects against illegal searches and seizures, unless planned and manned (by well-trained DUI enforcement screening officers) pursuant to a programmatic plan for Constitutional deployment.
Furthermore, if the DUI roadblock you went through in West Virginia was an impromptu roadblock, and not adequately publicized with enough notice, your entire case could be dismissed. Talk to Harley Wagner today and he will listen to what happened to you, and then tell you where he sees possible errors and weaknesses in the State’s check point evidence.
How to Protect Yourself from Police Checkpoints – After a DUI Arrest or Before Being Arrested
NEVER assume that DUI checkpoints WV cannot be defeated by your DUI attorney. Due to the presumptive illegality of all warrantless police encounters, errors will be held against the State. NEVER plead guilty to a drunk driving arrest made at a DUI checkpoint, without having your DUI lawyer investigate all aspects of constitutional compliance at sobriety checkpoint locations.
West Virginia DUI lawyer Harley Wagner has defended many roadblock cases where his client was pulled over at a police check point, arrested for DUI, and hauled off in handcuffs to jail. Most criminal defense lawyers in WV are not DUI specialists at their DUI law firms. Driving under the influence is merely a fraction of most criminal defense law firms, but drunk driving defense is all DUI defense lawyer Harley Wagner does, day in and day out.
You will find DUI attorney Wagner in almost every courtroom around the state.
The Wagner Law Firm has used many strategies to get police evidence excluded from the State’s proof against you. A lot of times if the prosecutor can’t submit your breathalyzer results as evidence, a reduction in charges is possible. This is because the typical traffic violation in many traditional DUI arrests will bolster claims of impaired driving, and a DUI checkpoint arrest has no errant driving.
Is There a DUI Checkpoint App?
If you don’t have this technology on your cell phone already, DUI lawyer Harley Wagner suggests that you install a checkpoint app such as Waze to help you find an alternative route, and completely avoid DUI checkpoint locations. These can help identify upcoming roadblocks in most instances. Searching on Google for “police checkpoints near me” is almost certain to not help you avoid a roadblock.
Smartphone technology that tracks your geo-position, and is shared and contributed to my millions of other drivers, is you best detection device for checkpoints.
Mr. Wagner points out that this checkpoint app provided by Waze is free, but DUI attorneys are NOT free. Try Waze for a few short trips, and you will routinely use it to increase your awareness of DUI checkpoints tonight, and also when police are nearby, on your route for that evening.
FREE Lawyer Consultation with West Virginia DUI Attorney
Call DUI defense lawyer Harley O. Wagner today at (304) 901-7400 to schedule a FREE professional legal consultation and DUI case assessment with The Wagner Law Firm. Discover what steps can be taken to save your driver’s license and to put up the best criminal defense. WV DUI lawyer Harley Wagner NEVER gives up merely because a police checkpoint arrest for was made.
Since your FREE lawyer consultation is with drunk driving book author Harley Wagner, why not obtain his perspective on your pending WV DUI?