July 4th Weekend DUI Checkpoints and Patrols

July is now here and starting off a with a bang. With the Fourth on a Monday, there’s a three-day weekend for most and a four-day weekend for others. For criminal defense attorneys, this weekend could also be called Christmas in July. Warm weather, drinking, fireworks, a day off, friends, family and travel all can lead to arrests.

Highways are already tight throughout Connecticut in both directions as people are headed toward the shores or up north. State and local police are stepping up patrols for speeding and drunk driving. The state police have published a list of DUI checkpoints on their website and to local newspapers. Check it out here. Municipal police departments may publicize their patrols on their websites or in local media.

I wrote last year that checkpoint locations must be publicized. Very briefly, in order to stop a car on the road, police need reasonable suspicion that a crime or motor vehicle violation is being committed or has been committed. The exception to that is a checkpoint, in which all cars traveling through the checkpoint are stopped. The Supreme Court has held that the locations of these checkpoints must be publicized. Remember, police can always stop a car for reasonable suspicion, which for DUI’s doesn’t require a whole lot, whether in a checkpoint or roving patrol or not.

This should not be taken as how to avoid getting stopped or where not to drive drunk. One should not drive drunk anywhere. Although the legal blood alcohol content limit is .08 in Connecticut and every other state now, try to stay closest to zero because even if you are not legally intoxicated, your driving skills are still compromised by alcohol.

Years ago when I interned between my second and third years of law school, the firm for which I interned represented a client who was charged (and later convicted) of a DUI and Assault With a Motor Vehicle for hitting a police officer in a checkpoint. She and a friend were driving home from a bar and came across a DUI checkpoint. The police were actually packing up to go home. The friend alerted the driver that there were police so the driver turned to avoid the checkpoint. She turned into a police officer instead, severely injuring him. Other officers, who were already there, very quickly arrested her.

Of course the Simpsons also did this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjYqpiLEUq0

If you or someone you know is arrested for a DUI this weekend, call me. Here’s another good piece of advice. If someone you know is arrested, don’t drive to the police station if you’ve also been drinking. A while back I was talking to a police officer who had arrested someone for a DUI. The defendant called one of his buddies to pick him up. The friend had been out with him at the bar earlier in the night. The guy swerved into the police station’s parking lot and stumbled right into a sobriety test and DUI arrest on his own. The cop said it was the easiest DUI ever. They made sure the person who picked up both of them was sober before he left his house.

Try to stay out of trouble this weekend. At least stay out of legal trouble. If not, I’ll see you on Tuesday.


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