If you live in Minnesota, you may have noticed that you’ve never once driven through a sobriety checkpoint when traveling across the state. You may think that the absence of these checkpoints is the norm and that only a handful of states use sobriety checkpoints, but you’d be mistaken. Nearly 80 percent of states in the U.S. allow sobriety checkpoints, but Minnesota is one of 12 states that have forbid the practice.
So why doesn’t Minnesota allow DUI checkpoints? We explain why you won’t find these checkpoints on our roads in today’s blog.
Does Minnesota Have DUI Checkpoints?
By conducting random DUI checkpoints, police hope to catch drivers who may not appear to be under the influence, and they hope that their presence deters others from getting behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking. However, Minnesota has ruled that these searches are actually unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court previously ruled that sobriety checkpoints are legally permissible, but the states have the final say on them. The Minnesota Supreme Court viewed the issue a little differently, and in 1994, they ruled that these random stops were unconstitutional because they violate the rights guaranteed by the 4th Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Proponents of sobriety checkpoints ague that statistics show that they do help reduce instances of drunk driving when used effectively, but the argument hits a slippery slope when the ends start justifying the means. We would certainly have fewer drug sales if we randomly searched homes for illegal substances, but individuals are guaranteed a right to privacy and to be free from an unreasonable or baseless search. Essentially, that’s how the Minnesota Supreme Court viewed sobriety checkpoints. Drivers were having their BAC tested without their being any basis for the test, other than the fact that they were driving a vehicle. This alone was not enough to warrant a search, and our state Supreme Court ruled these searches against the law.
These sobriety checkpoints may be done with the “common good” in mind, but when it infringes on basic rights, it’s a problem. We’re glad that Minnesota has outlawed these unconstitutional checks, and we believe the police do a great job conducting other legal enforcement tactics to help keep our roads safe. As Ben Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” We can’t conduct unreasonable searches in the hopes of helping our roads be a little safer.
If you need help after a DUI arrest, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today.