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One method of securing DWI and other drunk driving arrests used by Raleigh and Wake County police is to set up DWI checkpoints, where the breathalyzer machine typically found only at the police station downtown is brought into the field in the so-called “BATmobile.”  Last month, on July 13, 2012, a checkpoint was set up in Wake County that resulted in 90 citations, 17 of which were driving while impaired charges.  Fourteen other individuals were charged with other drug and alcohol violations, as a result of the checkpoint operation.  Twenty-eight others were arrested for driving without a license.

Another DWI checkpoint was conducted near Hillsborough and Gorman Streets on Saturday, August 18.  Another was conducted on August 17 near Avent Ferry and Trailwood Drive, and another on August 11 near New Bern Avenue and Raleigh Blvd.  Other DWI checkpoints have been conducted this summer in Wake County, including Cary and Apex, as well as elsewhere in the Triangle.

Raleigh and other North Carolina drivers should beware.  While you may (reasonably) believe that an officer cannot simply stop you and search you and your vehicle and investigate you for a crime without having a basis to believe that you’ve committed a crime (see the Bill of Rights), the constitution is essentially suspended for the purpose of DWI checkpoints.  If you are unfortunate enough to be caught up in a DWI checkpoint, you have entered a zone of limited constitutional protection, and you can be detained and investigated for criminal activity without your consent and without any basis to believe that you have ever done anything wrong.

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Ben is an experienced trial lawyer who earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He was trained in trial practice at the nation’s preeminent Public Defender agency, the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, described by United States Attorney General Eric Holder as “the best public defender office in the country.”

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