The Police Are Required to Announce the Location of Sobriety Checkpoints

In the state of Virginia, the police can't simply erect a sobriety checkpoint at random. The law states that they have to announce the location of the checkpoint in advance—though what constitutes an official “announcement” is, of course, open to interpretation. The legal bar may be as low as an obscure ad on page 27 of the local newspaper, or a 15-second commercial late at night on a local TV station; whatever the case, the police are certainly not obliged to post signs for miles along the highway reading “DUI checkpoint ahead.”

However, you may be surprised to learn that some police departments take the opposite tack, aggressively advertising the time and location of their sobriety checkpoints (and even posting this information on web pages and Twitter accounts). The reasoning is that the purpose of a sobriety checkpoint is to actively discourage drunk drivers—and if a driver knows that a sobriety checkpoint is in the works, he may choose to stay off the bottle entirely that day.

One important wrinkle about sobriety-checkpoint announcements is that police often list “decoy” locations along with the real one to foil people who try to game the system. For example, some iPhone apps will list the announced sobriety checkpoints in your neighborhood, but these apps are often fed deliberate misinformation by clever police departments. Questions? Call the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman for a free consultation!

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