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What happens at Oklahoma sobriety checkpoints

| Apr 29, 2020 | Criminal Defense

A majority of U.S. states, including Oklahoma, conduct periodic sobriety checkpoints. During holiday weekends and other times when impaired driving may be more prevalent, you may run into fixed locations along busy roads where law enforcement has set up points allowing officers to stop drivers at random.

Sobriety checkpoints may be frustrating and inconvenient for you, but they are effective according to some studies. The United States Supreme Court has held that sobriety checkpoints do not represent an unreasonable seizure due to the severity of the DUI problem and the limited scope of the detention. Here are some answers to questions you may have about sobriety checkpoints in Oklahoma.

What does law enforcement look for at a sobriety checkpoint?

If authorities take note of a serious violation not related to impairment, such as an invalid driver’s license, you may be subject to law enforcement action. However, the primary purpose of the checkpoint is to identify drivers who may be under the influence of alcohol or some other drug.

Should the authorities observe signs of impairment by alcohol, prescription medicine, marijuana or other drugs during the initial stop, further investigation, including field sobriety testing, will take place in a secondary screening area.

Why do authorities only stop some of the cars at the checkpoint?

Checkpoints take place at a fixed location with a limited area in which to stop vehicles. Authorities will allow traffic to pass when the screening area is at capacity. A sobriety checkpoint may only accommodate five or six vehicles at a time.

Do you have to stop at a sobriety checkpoint?

If you go through the checkpoint and authorities ask you to stop, the law requires you to comply. However, you can legally avoid the checkpoint altogether by turning around before you get there. If saturation patrols observe you engaging in illegal or suspicious behavior, they can stop you, but they cannot stop your vehicle for turning around to avoid the checkpoint.