With the Holiday Season rapidly approaching, you can be sure that the Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, and Colorado State Patrol will pull out one of their most used (and most controversial) DUI prevention tools: the DUI checkpoint.
As a Colorado Springs DUI defense attorney, I really dislike DUI checkpoints. A checkpoint essentially forces every citizen who drives down a certain road to be stopped and interrogated by the police. I know some people justify this type of law enforcement technique with the "if you aren't doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide" rationale. From my perspective, that's just not the point. Our Bill of Rights is predicated on the notion that we should be free from government interference unless we've demonstrated that we have somehow broken the law. A checkpoint flies in the face of that principal: it's essentially a "stop and show us your papers" mentality--no probable cause needed for the police to get into your business.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, a recent Colorado Springs DUI checkpoint netted 16 potential drunk drivers. Sounds great, right? The problem though, is that almost 1200 cars (many containing multiple people) were detained for no reason other than trying to get from point A to point B. Assuming just 2 people were in each car, that's 2400 people detained to net 16 potential problem drivers. I'm no math wizard, but that's means that well over 99% of those that drove through the checkpoint were innocent and wrongly detained. When those types of numbers are coupled with studies that show how patrol officers who stop cars for erratic driving behavior are much more effective at finding drunk driver's, the public policy argument to allow checkpoints becomes even weaker.
The US Supreme Court and Colorado Supreme Court allow DUI checkpoints, but they do set parameters to attempt to prevent discrimination and abuse of this intimidating law enforcement technique. If you were detained in a DUI checkpoint and charged into court, call an experience Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney to determine if your rights were violated.