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North Dakota looks at ending DUI checkpoints

It may become much harder for police officers in North Dakota to arrest people for drunk driving. Lawmakers in the state recently proposed a bill that outlaws DUI checkpoints. House Bill 1442 states that law enforcement needs to have reasonable suspicion a person is under the influence of alcohol to pull him or her over.

Some lawmakers argue DUI checkpoints are an ineffective tool for preventing impaired driving. Drivers in North Dakota may not have to deal with these stops for much longer. 

As of this writing, the bill has passed the state's House with a 79 to 14 vote. It now moves to the Senate, where it will receive further deliberations.

Although similar legislation has come through in recent years, this bill has a genuine chance of passing. It is important to be aware of how it will affect driving in our neighbor state, should it become law.

What is the problem with DUI checkpoints?

In the past, lawmakers in favor of eliminating DUI checkpoints pointed to the constitutionality of them. Many people believe these checkpoints violate people's civil rights.

Ordinarily, the police need a reason to pull someone over and ask them questions. With DUI checkpoints, law enforcement can force everyone to stop and present identification.

These arguments have not worked in the past so with the newest bill, lawmakers have focused on how DUI checkpoints are ineffective for stopping drunk drivers. Those against such bills argue DUI checkpoints are necessary deterrents. 

Is it possible for such a law to pass?

Some states have already passed legislation to outlaw DUI checkpoints. Wisconsin and Iowa have laws prohibiting sobriety checkpoints while Michigan, Washington and Oregon have laws stating how DUI checkpoints violate the states' constitutions. North Dakota may soon join these states.

Only time will tell if it is an effective measure against drunk driving, and if a similar law could come to Minnesota. Until then, if you're arrested for impaired driving a skilled attorney can be an invaluable resource.

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