DUI Checkpoints in Kansas
In Kansas, law enforcement officers use predetermined fixed locations called DUI checkpoints to stop vehicles and try to see if they can catch anyone who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and arrest them. These checkpoints are also seen as a way to deter people from drinking and driving in the first place, because seeing these checkpoints will make people think there is a higher chance of them getting caught and arrested.
Kansas DUI checkpoints are most common late at night or early in the morning on weekends and holidays, but officials may also set them up near large sporting events and other types of celebratory activities where alcohol is served. Specific areas might also see more DUI checkpoints based on the number of alcoholic establishments in that neighborhood or because a high number of alcohol-related accidents or arrests have been known to occur there.
Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?
In short, yes. The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 that DUI checkpoints are not an illegal search and seizure in the 1990 Michigan vs. Sitz case. They considered it a justified intrusion because it is in the public interest to keep drunk drivers off the road.
Despite the ruling, 11 states have ruled that DUI checkpoints are against their state constitutions. There is also controversy over the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that these checkpoints were legal for catching DUIs specifically, yet at many of these stops they hand out other citations, such as tinted windows, defective tail lights, out-of-date registrations, and expired driver’s licenses. The fees from these citations bring in revenue for local governments. Also, it has been found that roaming patrols are more effective than DUI checkpoints at finding and arresting drivers who have been drinking.
Despite this, in the state of Kansas, DUI checkpoints are considered constitutional and legal, so if you are stopped at one, you must comply with the rules.
If You Are Stopped at a Kansas DUI Checkpoint
One of the most important things about being stopped by a police officer for any matter is to pass the “attitude test.” This means that you should be polite and respectful, but does not mean that you have to answer all questions or do anything the officers asks of you. In fact, it’s in your best interest to only answer questions concerning your identity, registration, and insurance information. If you are asked questions like, “where did you drive from” or “have you been drinking,” you are better off respectfully declining to answer. Answering some questions and avoiding others can actually seem more suspicious than avoiding answering questions altogether.
You may be asked to provide your driver’s license, registration, or insurance information, and you should readily provide these documents. However, you do not need to take a field sobriety test if requested. Many Kansas DUI lawyers believe that theses tests, such as walking in a straight line and touching your nose, are designed for you to fail. The opinions formed by the officer can only be used against you, so why risk it?
For the most part, stops at a DUI checkpoint should be quick and to the point. The officer will be looking at you for signs of intoxication, such as:
- bloodshot eyes
- open or empty alcohol containers
- drug paraphernalia
- fumbling fingers and/or impaired movement
- slurred speech
- an odor of alcohol or drugs
- an admission that you have been drinking or using drugs
He or she may shine a light into your car to see if there are any open alcohol containers. If you are asked to allow your car to be searched, you can decline.
If You Are Arrested at a Kansas DUI Checkpoint
After your arrest, you may be given a blood test or a breath test to determine your blood alcohol level. It is in your best interest to comply since you will likely face steeper penalties from the State after a refusal if you are convicted.
It’s also important that you don’t answer any further questions once you are arrested. You are just providing more evidence to the police, and by staying silent, they will have less on file to prove their case against you. Instead, politely request to speak with your DUI lawyer. If they do not meet your request, don’t be afraid to ask again.
Be aware that just because you fail a breath test does not mean that you will be convicted of a DUI. The machines are not infallible, and there are a number of reasons why the results could be incorrect. There are also other avenues for defense available. If you have been charged with a Kansas DUI, contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible.