In 2015, 4,429 West Virginians were arrested upon suspicion of operating a motor vehicle while impaired. For this same year, approximately 1,500,000 people were arrested for DUI in the United States. With this in mind, there can be no question that West Virginia and the rest of the country place an emphasis on enforcing DUI laws. About 1,250 per 100,000 drivers were arrested for driving impaired in 2015. Those persons ages 18 - 24 were the most commonly arrested age group - comprising 25.3% of the 1,500,000 Americans arrested for DUI that year.
One mechanism used by police agencies to enforce DUI laws is what most of us refer to as a checkpoint. In West Virginia a DUI checkpoint must be conducted in conformity with certain guidelines before your stop and possible arrest will be deemed lawful. The operational guidelines applicable to properly conducted and constitutional motor vehicle checkpoints in West Virginia must generally include: Notice to the prosecuting attorney of the county for which the checkpoint is to be conducted, notice and approval of the supervisor overseeing and authorizing the checkpoint, a predetermined location for the checkpoint activity, prior inspection or affirmation that the sight of the checkpoint is safe and visible to the public so as to insure officer safety and motorist safety, presence of adequate lighting and safety equipment (i.e.reflective vests), a sufficient number of uniform personnel to minimize fear and surprise of the monitoring public, an alternate route for any driver that wishes to avoid the checkpoints operation, and the physical presence of the supervisor in charge of the checkpoint. See WVSP Sobriety Checkpoint Operational Guidelines Policies 2.01 through 2.15, Carte v. Cline, 194 W.Va. 233 (1995), and Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979).
If you are charged with an alcohol or drug related driving offense after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint your lawyer should first direct his or her attention as to whether the stop was legal to begin with. You may be surprised to find out how many rules and policies which are designed to protect your constitutional freedoms were ignored by the police agency that has charged you with DUI. You will need a good, fair, and impartial judge in order for these defenses to be recognized - but the viability of these types of defenses will not even be placed in issue without the right attorney.
DUI checkpoints serve the important function of deterring impiared driving and are almost always (and should be) publicized. With this is mind, you can keep up with DUI checkpoints in West Virignia at www.duiblock.com/dui_checkpoint_locationswest_virginia/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wvcheckpoints.