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DUI checkpoints are legal in Nebraska, so be prepared

Major holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day tend to remind drivers that law enforcement officials here in Lincoln use DUI checkpoints in order to deter drunk drivers and arrest those they suspect of driving while impaired. Most people would agree that keeping drunk drivers off the roads helps save lives. However, that does not negate the fact that these checkpoints can be an inconvenience.

DUI checkpoints remain controversial due to questions regarding their legality, but the state of Nebraska considers them legal. In order to give you the best chance of navigating these checkpoints, it may help to know certain facts about them.

Here's what you need to know

In order to remain legal, DUI checkpoints need to adhere to the following criteria:

  • Law enforcement officials must announce the intention to set up a DUI checkpoint a few days beforehand. Police usually include the location, date and time in the announcement.
  • Around major holidays such as Independence Day, major events such as Super Bowl Sunday or any other time when more people may be drinking and driving, it may be a good idea to check to see if a checkpoint could interfere with your travel plans.
  • Not everyone in your vehicle may be required to take a roadside breath test, but more than likely, as the driver, the officer will ask you to submit to one. Remember that refusing could result in the suspension of your driver's license under Nebraska's implied consent laws.
  • As is the case anytime police stop you, remain calm and respectful.

If an officer at a DUI checkpoint suspects you of drunk driving, the officer may ask you to participate in field sobriety tests, and you could end up under arrest. Otherwise, you may ask the officer if you are free to go.

Here's what comes next

If you do find yourself under arrest on suspicion of drunk driving, you do not have to plead guilty to charges. Just because a roadside breath test or field sobriety test convinced an officer that you were impaired, it does not mean he or she was right. Roadside breath tests are notoriously unreliable, and field sobriety tests don't fare much better. You retain the right to challenge a DUI charge just as you would any other offense. Your case may not be as cut and dry as you believe.

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