Articles Posted in DUI / Drunk Driving Checkpoints

The Massachusetts State Police announced that troopers will be conducting a DUI / OUI Sobriety Checkpoint at “an undisclosed location” in Bristol County on the evening of December 12, 2014.  Bristol County includes the towns of Dartmouth; Easton; Mansfield; North Attleborough; Norton; Raynham; Rehoboth; Seekonk; Swansea; and Westport,

What are your rights when it comes to a OUI / DUI roadblock or, as the police like to call them, ‘sobriety checkpoints’?  Under Massachusetts law, the police are entitled to conduct drunk driving roadblocks, but they must abide by certain rules and procedures… Continue Reading ›

Massachusetts State Police opened fire at a driver who allegedly struck one officer and then police on a high speed chase after failing to stop at an OUI / DUI roadblock on Sunday in Lawrence and arrested him on Massachusetts Drunk Driving Charges.

The driver allegedly refused to stop at the checkpoint shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Sunday and drove right through it, allegedly striking a Massachusetts State Trooper, while other officers opened fire at the vehicle. After being apprehended following a chase by other troopers, the man was arrested and charged with Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol, Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, and Assault & Battery on a Police Officer.

Following his arraignment in Lawrence District Court earlier this week, the man was held without bail.

When it comes to DUI / OUI roadblocks, aka “sobriety checkpoints”, Massachusetts law permits police to establish DUI roadblocks so long as the selection of vehicles stopped is not arbitrary and the procedure is conducted pursuant to a plan devised by law enforcement supervisors.

By way of background, a stop of a car at a police roadblock, no matter how brief, is considered to be a warrantless seizure that implications constitutional protections under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The United States Supreme Court has upheld police using DUI checkpoints if they are reasonable and balance the public interest in reducing alcohol related accidents against a person’s constitutional rights.

The reason police must operate an OUI checkpoint according to a devised plan is because it is illegal for police to target which vehicles to stop. Even fixed checkpoints where police stop cars according to no set plan or pattern are illegal. In other words, if the police officers have any discretion in the stopping of vehicles, the constitutionality of the sobriety checkpoint will not be upheld.

For persons charged with DUI / Drunk Driving Charges after having gotten stopped at a DUI Checkpoint, Massachusetts law mandates that the DUI Checkpoint must be reasonable.

In other words, in cases where a defendant is charged with Operation of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Alcohol challenges the stop and ‘seizure’ at the checkpoint as not having been constitutional, Massachusetts criminal law places the burden on the prosecutor to prove that the roadblock seizure was conducted in accordance with certain guidelines. If the prosecutor fails to meet his burden that the checkpoint was reasonable and constitutional, your case be ultimately be dismissed.

In the 1983 case of Commonwealth v. McGeoghegan, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that, in order for a roadblock to be permissible, the selection of cars stopped by not be arbitrary and assurance must be given that the procedure utilized by the police to conduct the DUI checkpoint is conducted pursuant to a plan devised by law enforcement. Additionally, the site selected for the DUI Checkpoint must a “problem area”, in other words, where accidents or drunk driving arrests have previously occurred.

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