Drivers beware! Vermont State Police in cooperation with local police forces will be out in mass from now until the beginning of the year conducting DUI checkpoints across the State. These checkpoints primary objective is to detect drunk drivers, but will also be to enforce seatbelt and other Vermont motor vehicle laws.
It has been well settled in Vermont that the following provisions must be followed in order for a DUI roadblock to be considered constitutional under the 4th Amendment.
As a general rule, a DUI roadblock will pass constitutional muster if: (1) the initial stop and the contact between the officers in the field and the motorist involves an explanation of the nature of the roadblock and minimal detention of a nonimpaired driver; (2) the discretion of the officers in the field, as to the method to be utilized in selecting vehicles to be stopped, is carefully circumscribed by clear objective guidelines established by a high level administrative official; (3) the guidelines are followed in the operation of the roadblock; (4) approaching drivers are given adequate warning that there is a roadblock ahead; (5) the likelihood of apprehension, fear or surprise is dispelled by a visible display of legitimate police authority at the roadblock; and (6) vehicles are stopped on a systematic, nonrandom basis that shows drivers they are not being singled out for arbitrary reasons. State v. Martin 496 A.2d (VT 1985)
Roadblocks have been attacked on constitutional grounds for a wide range of reasons, such as Officers detaining a motorist for longer than is necessary or for them singling out certain vehicles based on their make and model or the appearance of the driver.
If your planning on driving during the evening hours this month, be sure to check local newspapers for press releases on DUI checkpoints that are planning on being conducted. However, as a basic rule, the assumption should be, that if your driving at night this month, expect that there will be a Vermont DUI checkpoint somewhere along your travels.