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Are you sure your DUI checkpoint was legal?

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Posted on August 27, 2021

In the Land of Lincoln, driving with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08% is one of the more effective ways to see flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. If your arrest for driving under the influence leads to a conviction, you may face some significant legal penalties.

While most DUI arrests in Illinois stem from individual stops, it is also possible to encounter a sobriety checkpoint. At these roadblocks, officers stop a random sample of vehicles to check for driver intoxication. For a sobriety checkpoint to be legal, though, it must have certain features.


Officers must notify the public before setting up a sobriety checkpoint. They typically do this by issuing a press release or publishing a notification in the local newspaper. Usually, officers also place signs before the checkpoint with instructions for approaching drivers.

Operational procedures

For sobriety checkpoints to be legal under Illinois law, they cannot be arbitrary. That is, they must follow precise operational procedures to meet a specific purpose. Typically, officers must have a pattern for stopping vehicles at checkpoints. For example, they must stop only every fifth vehicle.


Roadside checkpoints also cannot be unreasonably inconvenient for motorists. While drivers may have to stop briefly, officers should not detain them longer than it takes to determine whether they may be under the influence of alcohol.

Encountering a sobriety checkpoint for the first time can be intimidating. Ultimately, though, if a checkpoint leads to your arrest, it is advisable to investigate whether officers complied with the law when setting it up.