Tennessee DUI checkpoint video calls attention to drivers' rights
A viral video of taken at a DUI checkpoint in Tennessee has sparked widespread conversation about the rights of drivers when stopped by police for suspected drunk driving.
August 17, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Tennessee DUI checkpoint video calls attention to drivers' rights
Article provided by T. Bailey Law Office
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An incident at a Tennessee sobriety checkpoint erupted into a nationwide debate recently after a video of the incident went viral on the internet. The confrontation between a sheriff's deputy and 21-year-old driver at a Fourth of July roadblock in Tennessee has received more than four million views on YouTube, and has sparked countless conversations about drivers' rights at DUI checkpoints and other traffic stops.
Constitutional rights during Tennessee traffic stops
Police officers are limited by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with regard to the manner in which they conduct traffic stops and vehicle searches. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of individuals to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, which means that law enforcement officers cannot conduct a traffic stop or vehicle search without a valid reason.
For a routine DUI traffic stop, police officers generally may not pull a driver over unless they have a "reasonable suspicion" that criminal activity has occurred. Reasonable suspicion can be based on a number of different factors. For example, police may have reasonable suspicion sufficient to conduct a traffic stop if they observe a driver weaving between lanes or disobeying traffic laws.
A traffic stop conducted without adequate justification is unconstitutional, even if it results in police discovering evidence of a crime. In some cases, evidence obtained as a result of an illegal traffic stop is considered inadmissible in court, making it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain a conviction of a driver charged with DUI or other criminal offense.
Checkpoints vs. traffic stops in Tennessee
The Fourth Amendment operates somewhat differently at sobriety checkpoints than it does during ordinary DUI traffic stops. Because the locations of DUI checkpoints are usually publicized in advance, and drivers are generally free to avoid them by taking other routes, the constitutional protections against police intrusion at a sobriety checkpoint are generally thought to be somewhat more relaxed than they would be during a typical traffic stop.
Even at a DUI checkpoint, however, there are limits on what police may and may not do. For instance, officers at a sobriety checkpoint must follow a predetermined formula for determining which cars to stop, and they are barred from stopping drivers on the basis of race or other illegal factors. In addition, police at DUI checkpoints may not detain a driver for further questioning unless doing so is justified by specific evidence, for instance if the driver smells of alcohol or has an expired driver's license.
Call a lawyer if stopped for DUI in Tennessee
If you or a loved one is stopped by police for suspected DUI in Tennessee, it is important to get help from a lawyer at your first opportunity. A DUI defense lawyer with in-depth knowledge of the Tennessee legal system can help you protect your rights and give you the best possible chance of a positive outcome.
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