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Why You Will Never See a Sobriety Checkpoint in Wisconsin

Posted on in DUI / OWI

Milwaukee DUI attorneys, sobriety checkpointWisconsin is one of 12 states that prohibit sobriety checkpoints. In Wisconsin, in order to be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), police must have probable cause that a law is being broken in order to pull over a vehicle.

The Legality of DUI Checkpoints

In the case Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that, if properly conducted, sobriety checkpoints were legal and did not violate the 4th Amendment, which guarantees protection from unreasonable searches.

Federal law and case law establish the lower limit on individual rights. States can decide if they would like to give citizens additional protections.

Guided by the U.S. Supreme Court, most states allow checkpoints. However, in 12 states, police do not conduct sobriety checkpoints, according to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association. Sobriety checkpoints in Wisconsin are prohibited by statute. In addition to Wisconsin, other states that do not allow checkpoints include Texas, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Arguments For and Against Checkpoints

Proponents of checkpoints argue that they deter impaired driving and that they get drunk drivers off the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that sobriety checkpoints reduce alcohol-related accidents.

Those against checkpoints argue that this practice is an infringement on constitutional liberties. They also point to the low number of people arrested and the large number of people slowed down at checkpoints.

Finally, this group argues that checkpoints are costly and that officers on patrol have a better record of stopping impaired drivers. This fact may be due to the idea that drivers can avoid the checkpoints by using alternate routes.

When Can Police Lawfully Pull You Over?

Police must have probable cause that a crime has occurred in order to stop a car. Probable cause must be based on articulable facts.

For example, if police witness your car weaving or if you fail to use a turn signal, police can pull you over. However, if police simply notice your car driving late at night or see a car full of people laughing, they do not have probable cause to stop you.

Contact a Milwaukee, WI, OWI Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with OWI, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. A lawyer will examine the facts surrounding your arrest to determine if police acted lawfully at all times.

This examination will include the facts that the police state for pulling you over and what facts gave rise to their suspicion that you may have been impaired. Even if officers acted properly, an attorney may be able to argue for a reduced penalty.

The knowledgeable Milwaukee DUI attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP can be reached at 414-271-1440. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.

Sources:

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/349/I/02/2/a

https://www.oyez.org/cases/1989/88-1897

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-03-25-scofflaws25_ST_N.htm

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