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DUI Checkpoints: Are They Legal in Nevada?

DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks, are considered legal in Nevada. Reno police routinely set up such checkpoints to detain suspected drunk drivers and deter intoxicated driving in general.

When an individual drives into a sobriety checkpoint, law enforcement will stop the driver and ask some questions to determine if they have been drinking alcohol recently. If the driver appears sober, police will allow him/her to continue through the checkpoint. But if the officers reasonably suspect that the driver is intoxicated, he/she will be directed to a nearby area to perform tests.

Common examples of intoxicated behavior include:

  1. Erratic driving
  2. Bloodshot or glossy eyes
  3. Order of alcohol on the driver’s breath or emanating from the vehicle
  4. Slurred speech
  5. Open or empty alcohol containers

Law enforcement may request the driver to take either a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs) or a preliminary breath test (FSTs). Based on the results of these tests, the driver may be arrested for DUI.

In order for a DUI checkpoint to be legally valid, police need to follow the following four rules:

  1. The checkpoint must be clearly visible to approaching traffic from 100 yards away
  2. A “stop” sign needs to be positioned near the highway’s centerline that is readable from 50 yards away
  3. A flashing red light at the side of the highway needs to be clearly visible to oncoming traffic 100 yards away
  4. There must be warning signs—accompanied by a burning beam light--at the side of the highway at least a quarter mile from the checkpoint to attract attention from oncoming traffic

If law enforcement fails to adhere to these rules, the defendant’s DUI charges may be dismissed or reduced.

If a driver notices warning signs of an upcoming sobriety checkpoint, the driver is allowed to take any legal detour before reaching the checkpoint. However, the driver cannot make an illegal U-turn or an improper term to evade the roadblock.

As soon as a driver arrives at a roadblock, they are required to stop, answer the officers’ questions, and adhere to their requests. Traveling through a DUI checkpoint in Nevada without stopping is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $2,000. If illegally driving through a checkpoint causes property damage, significant injury or death, it is considered a category B felony which carries a maximum prison sentence of six years and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you have been arrested for DUI at a checkpoint in Nevada, contact the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover and speak with our Reno criminal defense attorney today.