Law Offices of Christie A. Leary P.C.
Call Us: 703-359-7111

In a recent post, we discussed the requirement that Virginia police have reasonable suspicion of a violation before they pull a driver over to check for intoxication. As we noted in that post, however, sobriety checkpoints are a major exception to this rule.

In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that random DUI checkpoints did not violate the Constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. According to the Court in that case, drunk driving is such a serious threat to public safety that a state's interest in apprehending drunk drivers overrides any concerns about drivers' privacy.

Twelve states do not allow sobriety checkpoints. Some of these states have determined that the checkpoints would violate the state's constitution. Others have concluded that state law either prohibits checkpoints, or provides no authority for them. All other states, including Virginia, permit sobriety checkpoints.

When police set up a sobriety checkpoint, they typically set up a roadblock and stop vehicles according to a predetermined formula, such as every tenth car. This is to comply with prevailing interpretations of constitutional law, which require that vehicles be stopped in a manner that is truly random. The checkpoints are often set up on holiday weekends associated with drinking, such as New Year's Eve, Labor Day and St. Patrick's Day.

When a driver is facing DUI/DWI charges after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, there are still defenses available. In order to make an arrest police must have probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated. Probable cause is usually established through field sobriety tests and a breath test for blood alcohol content level. The motorist can fight the charges though, if there is evidence the tests were inaccurate or improperly administered.

Source:, "DUI Checkpoints," accessed on March 6, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Contact An Experienced Manassas Personal Injury Or DWI/DUI Lawyer

The firm offers a free consultation to review the facts of your case and recommend the best steps to take. Call 703-359-7111 or toll free 800-823-1127, or contact the offices by email to arrange an initial free consultation with our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy


Fairfax Office
10505 Judicial Drive, Suite 203
Fairfax, Virginia 22030

Toll Free: 1-800-823-1127
Phone: 703-359-7111
Fax: 703-543-5478
Fairfax Office Map

Manassas Office
9300 W. Courthouse Rd., Suite 204
Manassas, Virginia 20110

Toll Free: 1-800-823-1127
Phone: 703-359-7111
Fax: 703-543-5478
Map & Directions