Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Mississippi?

Posted by James Ferguson | Sep 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

Sobriety checkpoints (also known as DUI checkpoints, mobile checkpoints, or roadblocks) refer to temporary and fluctuating locations intended to keep drunk drivers off the roads. Police set up a roadblock, stopping every car that passes through the checkpoint to screen for suspicious drivers. If a driver shows signs of inebriation, he or she will be detained and subjected to a field sobriety test and/or breathalyzer test.

Sobriety checkpoints are regular practice throughout much of the United States, but are not legal in 13 states. Most of these states have statutory restrictions or case law prohibiting the practice. Certain libertarian and civil liberty groups argue that random checkpoints are an overreach of police power since they circumvent the need to show probable cause.

Federal Rulings on DUI Checkpoints

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that police officers must have probable cause for a traffic stop. So, why are police allowed to detain and question you at DUI checkpoints? The Supreme Court determined that the “degree of intrusion” of a sobriety checkpoint is not substantial enough to outweigh the compelling state interest in preventing injury and death from drunk driving accidents. Therefore, DUI checkpoints are not considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Mississippi Rulings on DUI Checkpoints

The Mississippi Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the legality of sobriety checkpoints. However, the 1987 decision in Boches v. State of Mississippi determined that police are allowed to pursue and detain individuals who attempt to evade these checkpoints. This decision indirectly upholds the legality of DUI checkpoints in Mississippi. The number of checkpoint locations and frequency of use varies by jurisdiction, but are a weekly occurrence in many parts of the state.

What to do at a Mississippi DUI Checkpoint

If you are detained at a sobriety checkpoint in Mississippi, remain calm. Always be polite, even if the officer does not extend you the same courtesy. Remember that answering questions and submitting to sobriety tests are voluntary. If at any point you do not wish to answer any more questions, simply inform the officer that you wish to remain silent, and then stop talking. However, if you refuse to submit to a sobriety test, your license will be suspended even without a criminal DUI charge. An attorney can assist you with the penalties sustained from declining a sobriety test.

Arrested for DUI? Hire a Mississippi DUI Lawyer

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense, but there are legal options available to those charged with DUI. If you were arrested for DUI after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, there may be defenses available to you. An experienced DUI defense attorney will understand the legal implications of your individual circumstances and fight for the best possible outcome for your case. Mississippi DUI attorney James Ferguson can answer your questions and advise the best way to proceed with your case. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

See related blog posts:
What to do if Stopped by Police
Mississippi Ranking for DUI Laws

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.


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