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DWI Roadblocks in Minnesota

by Apr 3, 2012DWI / DUI, Jail / Prison, Minnesota Attorney, Sam Edmunds

We were all taught at a young age of the dangers of drinking and driving and the consequences that come along with it.  Police in some states have set up DWI checkpoints in the form of roadblocks in areas with high DWI offense rates to monitor drinking and driving.  The stated purpose of roadblocks is usually legalized excuses to stop and scrutinize motorists for which there would otherwise be no reason to do so.  At these roadblocks, drivers are stopped at random by pulling them over to look for visual indicators of alcohol impairment such as red or glossy eyes and erratic movement.  Drivers showing no visual indications of impairment are usually told to move along while the drivers that do are stopped and questioned.

There are currently 12 states that prohibit the use of roadblocks.  These states are Alaska, Iowa, Idaho, Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, and Wyoming.  These 12 states consider the checkpoints unconstitutional.

Minnesota’s main opposition to the use of checkpoints is that states that have legalized checkpoints have yet to prove the effectiveness of these roadblocks.  Minnesota has also pointed to the fact that the primary purpose of these checkpoints is to check for intoxicated drivers, but many officers have strayed from this purpose and have issued tickets for expired licenses, seatbelt violations, and other administrative issues.   Minnesota honors the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution that prohibits law enforcement agents from performing unreasonable searches and seizures of private citizens which makes illegal the setup of sobriety checkpoints.

Minnesota laws have declared these DWI checkpoints to be in violation of Minnesota’s state constitution.  Before considering their approval, Minnesota law will require proof of their effectiveness and an increase in arrests.


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