There are a number of factors that can make the public roadways more or less safe for those driving. Weather conditions are one issue that can drastically increase the amount of risk people have in a vehicle. Poor driving practices, including drunk driving, are another risk factor that the public has very little control over.

However, lawmakers and law enforcement are acutely aware of the danger that drunk driving poses to people on the road. They, therefore, take many different enforcement steps to keep the roads in Kentucky as safe as possible by reducing the number of people who drive under the influence of alcohol. Sobriety checkpoints, also known as traffic safety checkpoints or drunk driving roadblocks, are one such tool commonly utilized by Kentucky law enforcement.

How does a sobriety checkpoint work?

If you have never encountered a sobriety checkpoint, you may not actually understand how they work. A sobriety checkpoint involves law enforcement creating a barrier on a popular roadway, often in the evening or late afternoon. They may target certain days, such as Super Bowl Sunday or the 4th of July, when people are more likely to consume alcohol.

Law enforcement will then stop every vehicle briefly as they approach the roadblock. An officer will talk with the driver and then either send them on their way or ask them to step out of the vehicle for a field sobriety test.

You have the right to turn around if you approach a checkpoint

One thing that people often find confusing is whether they can legally drive away once they become aware of a checkpoint. You are not officially detained or under arrest simply because you approached a checkpoint. If traffic allows, you can, theoretically, turn your vehicle around and attempt to go a different route.

However, law enforcement officers that notice you turn around may consider that reasonable suspicion to pull you over individually and perform a sobriety check. There is no guarantee that attempting to avoid a sobriety checkpoint will not result in individual attention on you as a driver.

Yes, sobriety checkpoints are legal

Driving is a privilege, not a basic American right. You have to comply with the law and maintain a valid license in order to continue to enjoy your driving privileges. The United States Supreme Court has previously ruled that sobriety checkpoints are legal as long as they indiscriminately stop all the vehicles that approach.

In other words, while it is possible to defend yourself against an arrest related to a checkpoint, perhaps by contesting the Breathalyzer test results, simply asserting that a roadblock is a violation of your rights will do little to assist your legal situation.