Until February 2, the Monday after Super Bowl weekend, drivers in the Las Vegas area can expect to see increased checkpoints checking for drunk drivers. The ramp-up is part of a coordinated effort, and will be the first of six planned increases in patrols over a set period of time in 2015.
The Super Bowl campaign is part of a new “Nevada Joining Forces” program administered by the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety. OTS received a federal grant, which it is passing down to state and local law enforcement agencies for traffic safety campaigns. The Nevada Highway Patrol received one of these grants, and is using the funds for both a public service announcement campaign and to pay for the increase checkpoints
It is actually the third Joining Forces DUI campaign since Thanksgiving of 2014. Future campaigns will focus around holidays. Nevada Highway Patrol Loy Hixson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that officers typically make about 60 to 70 DUI and DUI-related arrests on Super Bowl weekend. He said it had traditionally been one of the less busy holiday seasons.
DUI checkpoints may seem daunting, but there are actually a number of regulations under Nevada Revised Statutes 484B.570 that law enforcement must follow in setting them up. There must be a “Police Stop” warning sign at least a quarter of a mile from the checkpoint. At least flashing light at the roadblock must be visible from at least 100 yards away, and the roadblock itself must be visible from at least 100 yards. A stop sign must be visible from 50 yards. If an arrest results from a checkpoint where police failed to follow any of these rules, the arrest may be suppressed, which could lead to charges being dismissed.
The law allows police to briefly stop drivers at the checkpoint. All other traffic stops require reasonable suspicion, which means an articulable set of facts that would cause an objective person to believe criminal activity is afoot. If a driver approaches a roadblock and then turns around and drives the other way, that fact alone does not warrant reasonable suspicion to make a stop. Such a traffic stop may be suppressed after a motion from your attorney.
Even if a driver is arrested at a checkpoint, there are a number of possible defenses. For one, you may still refuse a standardized field sobriety test, breath test, urine test or blood test at a DUI checkpoint. Second, whether the officer was required to get a warrant as the current Nevada’s implied consent law grants a person the right to refuse all testing unless the officer obtained a warrant. Third, whether the SFST may have been improperly administered. Finally, was he equipment in a chemical test properly cleaned or calibrated.
Drivers in Las Vegas should be wary of checkpoints until February 2. If arrested, though, it does not mean a conviction, especially with the assistance of a dedicated Las Vegas DUI lawyer.