Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

attorneys

When You Can (and Can't) Get Around Going Through an Illinois DUI Police Checkpoint

DUI enforcement points, commonly known as roadblocks or checkpoints, are a frequently used tool of law enforcement to curtail drivers driving under the influence. So, if you're approaching a roadblock, what are your options? Can you choose to reverse course rather than go through the roadblock? According to a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, you can in certain situations.

DUI enforcement points, commonly known as roadblocks or checkpoints, are a frequently used tool of law enforcement to curtail drivers driving under the influence. So, if you're approaching a roadblock, what are your options? Can you choose to reverse course rather than go through the roadblock? According to a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, you can in certain situations.

The case before the court involved Jacob Timmsen, who was driving eastbound on US 136 on December 17, 2011 when he spotted a police roadblock. Before he reached the roadblock, however, Timmsen encountered a railroad crossing, which was the one place along that stretch of highway where U-turns were permitted. The driver signaled his turn, safely executed the U-turn when traffic allowed, and began traveling westbound.

Illinois State Police Officers pulled the driver over and discovered that he was driving on a suspended license. At Timmsen's court hearing, his lawyers sought to suppress the evidence against the driver, arguing that the police lacked probable cause to stop him. The trial court ruled against the driver, concluding that the mere fact that he executed a U-turn less than 50 yards from a safety checkpoint was, in and of itself, sufficiently suspicious to give the police grounds to stop him.

Timmsen was convicted and then appealed. The appeals court ruled in favor of the driver. Under Illinois law, a driver's act of driving to avoid a police roadblock may give police officers the necessary degree of reasonable suspicion needed to stop a driver only in some situations. In circumstances where a driver refuses to stop at a roadblock, stops just before a roadblock and swaps places with a passenger, or avoids the roadblock "in a suspicious manner," the police can legally stop that driver. The court acknowledged that what constitutes a "suspicious manner" was somewhat hazy, noting that it was "subject to much debate, with results varying by jurisdiction."

In Timmsen's circumstance, though, he did nothing that could be construed as avoiding the roadblock in a suspicious manner. He turned from eastbound US 136 to westbound US 136 by executing a legal turn, complete with proper use of his turn signal. At no point in Timmsen's driving witnessed by police did he violate the rules of the road. There were also no other elements that might reasonably arouse suspicion. Timmsen did not execute the turn erratically, did not squeal his tires or spray gravel, and did not execute his maneuver in a high-crime area.

So, in sum, if you are presented with a potential encounter with a police DUI checkpoint, you may be able to avoid that checkpoint if you can do so while violating no laws or rules of the road or engaging in any behavior or driving techniques that would naturally seem suspicious, such as speeding or peeling out. If you cannot legally take a path to drive away from the checkpoint, you may be unable to avoid it, since an act as simple as an illegal U-turn may be enough to give police the reasonable suspicion they need to stop your vehicle.

For detailed information and knowledgeable advice about your encounter with a police roadblock, contact the DuPage County criminal defense attorneys at Martin & Kent. Our attorneys have the years of experience and the skills needed to help you defend your checkpoint-related DUI arrest.

Contact us online or by calling (888) 388-9151 to schedule your confidential initial consultation at no charge.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information