You can always count on one ritual of the holiday season. Police departments step up DUI enforcement; they create more DUI “squads” or “task forces” and set up more DUI checkpoints at more locations.

Drivers at checkpoints are randomly screened, and those who appear to be driving under the influence may be asked to take a field sobriety test or blow into a breathalyzer. You probably already know that the checkpoints are typically conducted on weekends and holidays and after large sports and music events.

But in Nevada and 38 other states in the U.S., law enforcement agencies must tell the public when and where the checkpoints are going to be conducted. The effect is that drivers know in advance where the checkpoints are and can simply avoid them. Why are the checkpoints announced in advance to the public and press?

In 1990, the United State Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints must be announced in advance; otherwise, their use is a violation the Fourth Amendment, which forbids police from detaining anyone without a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The ruling was a compromise. The Supreme Court understood that checkpoints violate Fourth Amendment rights, but the court also understood their value to police departments in terms of public safety. The Court reasoned that if the public were given “fair notice” of DUI checkpoints, the Fourth Amendment concern is eliminated. Nevertheless, eleven states still specifically forbid their local police departments from using DUI checkpoints; these states feel the threat to privacy rights posed by the use of checkpoints is just too great to allow them.

According to many law enforcement sources, in states like Nevada, DUI checkpoints enhance public safety in two ways. Simply hearing that checkpoints are being conducted may deter some from driving drunk, and nothing will stop others; despite advance publicity, DUI checkpoints always result in a least a few DUI arrests. If you are charged with DUI – at a DUI checkpoint or otherwise – you should obtain the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately. A good DUI defense lawyer will help you gather evidence and witnesses, dispute test results, and will work hard to have your charge reduced or dismissed. DUI is serious in Nevada, so take it seriously; if you’re facing the charge, hire an experienced Nevada DUI defense attorney.

Advice for DUI Suspects

Like every other state in the U.S., the state of Nevada takes driving under the influence (DUI) charges very seriously.

If successfully convicted of driving under the influence in Nevada, a person faces the risk of jail time, heavy fines, community service, probation, a requirement to install a Breath Interlock Device on any vehicle operated by the person, the requirement to submit to random alcohol testing, the loss or restriction of driving privileges, court mandated DUI classes, court mandated substance abuse counseling, and/or certain other consequences as a court may find appropriate. Circumstances which would lead to harsher penalties include causing injury or death to another person, excessive amounts of property damage, failure to stop at the scene and report the accident (hit and run), being involved in a DUI while unlicensed or on a suspended license, or being involved in a DUI as a minor below the legal drinking age.

The driver’s license revocation procedure is separate from your criminal DUI case. Your DUI lawyer can also help you appeal the revocation of your license by representing you before the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. If you have your license suspended or revoked, you should work with an attorney to get it reinstated or be awarded a conditional license, which allows you to drive to work.

To say the least, the consequences of being caught driving under the influence are much heavier than the cost of a cab ride or the call to a friend for a ride home from a bar – unfortunately, if accusations of DUI have already been made, there is nothing that a suspect can do but deal with the consequences that may follow.

The best thing that a person suspected of DUI in Nevada can do is hire a Nevada DUI defense attorney. An attorney with specific experience representing those who have been charged with DUI will be a valuable asset for a DUI suspect to have. The attorney will craft a defense on the suspect’s behalf that takes into consideration the totality of the circumstances surrounding a case. Plus, an attorney will have access to resources like expert witnesses who can be called on to offer insight into specific aspects of a case, like the accuracy of alcohol testing equipment and DUI chemical testing procedures. Refusing to submit to a chemical test can aggravate consequences, so it is usually in a person’s best interests to submit to chemical testing – preferably a form of testing like blood or urine that creates a sample which can be retained and independently tested; there is no way to retain and independently test a breath sample.

One of the most confusing times following an arrest for DUI will be the time immediately following the arrest, before the person has had the chance to speak to an attorney or contact anyone outside of the police for help. When this time comes, it is important for DUI suspects to exercise their right to remain silent by making it affirmatively known that the right is being exercised. Actually, it would be best to exercise this right as soon as possible, so as to ensure that the right against self incrimination remains protected during any subsequent police questioning. While in police custody, a DUI suspect, or a person pulled over and detained for any reason, should answer no questions and make no comments other than to positively identify. If the police press the issue, a repetition of the statement exercising the right to remain silent can be repeated until they get the idea. The less that is said, the higher the chance that a defense attorney will be able to craft and present a competent and effective defense.