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Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

In some states, cops can set up sobriety checkpoints that are specifically meant to catch people operating their cars while impaired. According to the roadblock statute in Iowa, such checkpoints are actually not legal in this state. The cops can set up other kinds of roadblocks though, and it is possible that drivers will be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If this happens to you, you’ll want to talk to a Des Moines OWI lawyer from our firm.

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Can Checkpoints Still Be Used?

Iowa police can still set up checkpoints, but they are not focused exclusively on catching people driving drunk. Any roadblocks that are set up are supposed to be in response to immediate threats to the health or safety of the public. If the cops are setting up a roadblock for other reasons, they have to be focused on enforcing laws relating to:

  • The registration of motor vehicles
  • The licensing of drivers
  • The safety equipment used by vehicles

So the primary purposes of most roadblocks are checking registration to make sure that it is current or ensuring that a driver has a license.

Can I Avoid Checkpoints If I See Them?

Iowa police checkpoints also have to be obvious to any approaching motorists. The area should be well-lit and full of uniformed officers to make it obvious that the roadblock is an official one. So if you see one of these checkpoints ahead of you and there is a way to get around it, you might be tempted to take it.

There is nothing illegal about avoiding these checkpoints, provided that you do not commit any egregious traffic violations as you find another route. However, do not be surprised if this move attracts the attention of an officer. If someone is available to get in their car and pursue you, they might try to argue that this behavior is a reasonable cause for a stop.

Can I Still Be Arrested for a OWI if I Get Pulled Over?

If you do end up going through the checkpoint and you are assumed to be drunk, the cops may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests. Depending on how you perform or what kind of BAC reading a breathalyzer comes back with, you could be charged with an OWI. Just because a checkpoint was not specifically designed to catch drunk drivers, that does not mean that the cops cannot arrest someone if they think that they are breaking the law.

Talk to an Attorney Today

If you are facing an OWI charge, you need to take it seriously. Contact Herting Law, PLLC today and schedule a consultation with our team. We can take a closer look at your case and tell you more about your options.

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