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Tips to avoid sobriety checkpoints

While not all states allow sobriety checkpoints, Virginia has decided that the importance of public safety outweighs a resident's right from unreasonable search and seizure. However, there are still ways to keep from getting stopped at one. Here are just a few.

Why people avoid checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints are road blockades that allow police to randomly request a breathalyzer test from drivers. Those who have a BAC surpassing the 0.08 percent limit can be charged with a DUI.

Driving above the legal limit is unsafe for the driver and others on the road. However, many people wish to avoid a sobriety checkpoint not because they are drunk, but because they disagree with the principles of the practice, have an important schedule to stick to or fear they'll be ticketed for another traffic violation.

Look for public postings

Those who are proactive may be able to avoid driving into a sobriety checkpoint. These checkpoints need to be publicized prior to being erected. Law enforcement officers can do this by using signage in the area or posting the whereabouts of the checkpoint in a local publication.

Some cities have websites or apps that collect this data so that users can plan ahead. For example, if you have a business meeting at 3 pm, you can check to make sure a sobriety checkpoint won't make you late.

Take another route

If you see that you are approaching a checkpoint, you may take steps to avoid it. For example, you can turn off and take a different route or make a u-turn so long as you do not violate any traffic laws.

Outside of a sobriety checkpoint, a law enforcement officer must have witnessed you break the law or have reasonable suspicion that you have broken the law in order to pull you over legally. Turning away from a sobriety checkpoint is not reasonable suspicion and neither is leaving a bar. However, if you drive in a manner that suggests you may be impaired, an officer outside of a checkpoint can legally make a traffic stop.

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