Dear MAC,
A popular trend on social media suggests that stops at a DUI Checkpoint or similar things are a violation of the drivers’ 4th Amendment rights. Could you please clarify why these stops don’t violate that and other rights of the driver?

Neil,

Crawfordsville

Dear Neil,

Thanks so much for the question. MAC reached out to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office and passed your query along. Here’s what Andrew Salter, Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Montgomery County, told us.
Driving is considered a privilege, not a right. By exercising the privilege on a public street or highway, drivers subject themselves to a variety of intrusions on their freedom of action which they wouldn't be subject to on their own property. While individual police officers may not on their own initiative stop motorists without reasonable suspicion just to check for violations of the law, the Indiana Supreme Court has upheld the use of properly-planned and executed sobriety checkpoints aimed at combating drunk driving, holding that both under Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution sobriety checkpoints may be permissible. The court stopped short of creating a checklist of requirements for sobriety checkpoints, but in general a proper checkpoint will be coordinated among relevant law enforcement agencies, conducted in a safe manner involving limited intrusion into the activities of motorists, will prescribe a procedure for officer interaction with motorists that strictly limits officer discretion, and will typically be conducted only after some notice to the public. Motorists typically will be advised of a checkpoint by signs placed in advance of the stopping point and have an opportunity to select a route around the roadblock. Checkpoints may stop every motorist or may use some neutral rule for determining which cars to stop, such as stopping every fourth vehicle. At the checkpoint, drivers will typically be asked for license and registration, and released to continue on after very brief conversation with the officer unless signs of intoxication are noted, at which point law enforcement will initiate a drunk-driving investigation.

Thanks again for the question Neil, and many thanks to Andrew Salter with the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office for supplying the answer. Do you have a question for MAC – the Montgomery Answer Connection? Just e-mail it to askmac@thepaper24-7.com, or go to www.thepaper24-7.com and click on the Ask MAC icon. Got a question? MAC can get the answer!