In Wisconsin, OWI checkpoints are not considered legal. While a 1990 Supreme Court ruling upheld that these stops could be considered legal, Wisconsin and a handful of other states decided to protect their drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights and ban the use of OWI checkpoints. In Wisconsin, police officers must have reasonable suspicion to stop a driver for a OWI.
In order for you to be lawfully stopped for an OWI, the officer must have observed you violate a traffic law or notice signs of impairment that lead them to suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If an officer sees you swerving, failing to stop, or turning without signaling, you may be stopped under probable cause.
Checkpoints are a costly operation, which is one reason some states have decided to forgo their use. Instead, increasing the number of officers patrolling the streets on days when checkpoints would typically be used is a solution employed by many Wisconsin cities. Those who oppose the use of OWI checkpoints have also argued that the use of such checkpoints violates the rights of drivers who are not driving under the influence. Many drivers are stopped in these checkpoints, but they typically only result in a few arrests. Impaired drivers are stopped far more often by patrolling officers than OWI checkpoints, since drivers have a far more challenging time taking an alternate route to avoid patrols.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of a OWI, don’t wait to get in touch with our Milwaukee OWI defense lawyers. Our team at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella can help you protect your license and your rights. We can be reached anytime, day or night.