A Stoughton woman was arrested on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges earlier this month in at a drunk driving checkpoint in Canton.
The OUI / DUI roadblock, which was conducted by the Massachusetts State Police, resulted in the arrest of 6 people and approximately 88 civil motor vehicle citations.
It is well known that the Massachusetts State Police and local police departments sometimes use drunk driving roadblocks to investigate the OUI / DUI laws. Massachusetts law permits police to stop vehicles randomly, but the selection process must not be arbitrary and the method of stopping the vehicles must be according to a devised plan.
If the police stop vehicles at a drunk driving roadblock that is not according to a previously-devised plan, the stop would be considered illegal. Even fixed checkpoints where police stop cars without a pre-devised plan or patters are not constitutional and illegal. Simply put, the police cannot use any arbitrary discretion in selecting which vehicles are stopped.
Once a car has been selected and is pulled over and only if the police officer has reasonable suspicion "based on articulable facts" that the driver may be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, only then may he direct that driver to a secondary screening area. Massachusetts courts have generally upheld this further screening if the police officer has observed some articulable signs of possible intoxication.
Persons that have been stopped at a drunk driving sobriety checkpoint and ultimately arrested should always challenge the constitutionality of the roadblock because Massachusetts criminal law places the burden on the prosecutor to prove that the procedure was constitutional and conducted in accordance with the law. If the prosecutor is unable to establish his burden and demonstrate that the checkpoint was reasonable and constitutionally conducted, then your case may ultimately be dismissed.