Yes, but the police have to follow certain rules, and prove that they followed them. If the prosecution can’t prove that they had a Constitutional Arkansas roadblock and that they followed the rules of the checkpoint, then you can possibly beat your charges because the government won’t be allowed to use the evidence found against you as a result of the illegal Arkansas roadblock.
The state must show that the Arkansas DWI Sobriety Checkpoint was carried out pursuant to a previously established objective and neutral plan that was designed by supervising officers in order to limit the conduct of the field officers. Here are the general guidelines set forth by the Arkansas Supreme Court in order to determine if an Arkansas roadblock and plan was Constitutional:
- The Arkansas DWI Sobriety Checkpoint plan does not have to be written down beforehand, it can be written after, but there has to be a plan.
- The officers in the field have to follow that plan.
- The officers in the field must have discussed with their supervisors about the details of the plan before setting up the Arkansas DWI Sobriety Checkpoint.
- The supervising officer has to be the one that comes up with the plan, not the officers in the field running the checkpoint.
- The plan had to make sure the officers in the field had limited discretion in conducting the checkpoint, basically the officers in the field can’t be the ones to determine the procedures to be used in operating the roadblock. There has to be some policy in place that they follow.
- The details of the plan (date, time, duration, location, which vehicles will be stopped) have to be determined by the supervising officers, not the officers in the field.
- The way in which the vehicles will be stopped must be in a preestablished systematic fashion that does not give discretion to officers in the field.
Notice: I am not your lawyer, this is not legal advice, I don’t know all of the facts in your case, and I am not a judge or prosecutor nor do I have the power to declare checkpoints unconstitutional or illegal. The following is merely my opinion, and judges sometimes find that my opinion is wrong 😉
Here are some ways that the court can hold that the plan was unconstitutional or that it was not followed, either results in a finding that the checkpoint was illegal:
- If the systematic way the police stopped the vehicles was described as something similar to “stop every vehicle but then let some vehicles through in order to avoid lane blockage or potential traffic backup for prolonged periods of time” then the plan was probably unconstitutional and you might be able to beat your charges.
- I had one guy go through a checkpoint at 1:34 a.m., but because the plan showed that the Arkansas DWI roadblock was planned to go from 12:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
- In another case I had, the plan said the checkpoint was supposed to be in a different location than where they set it up.
There are lots of other ways behind the scenes to prove the checkpoint was Unconstitutional, but there is no way for a defendant to know those things without looking at the discovery and/or chatting with the officers. If you think you were stopped at an illegal Arkansas DWI sobriety checkpoint, give our Van Buren, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville DWI lawyers a call at (479) 782-1125.
Even if you were not arrested or cited for breaking the law, your civil rights still might have been violated, in which case you can sue the police in Arkansas for being detained at the illegal checkpoint. Check out my blog post on 1983 actions for more information about that.
In October of 2016, the Supreme Court of Arkansas found a Sobriety Checkpoint/Roadblock in Fort Smith Unconstitutional for violating some of the rules that I just listed, here is their decision.
For more detail on the Whalen case (the Fort Smith Arkansas DWI sobriety checkpoint/roadblock that was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Arkansas), check out my previous blog post on the subject where I have copies of the plan and other facts from that case. the decision from the Arkansas Court of Appeals, which has since been replaced by the Supreme Court opinion I linked to above.