Traffic Checkpoints in North Carolina

Posted by Josh Valentine | Aug 09, 2019

When the police and law enforcement set up a checkpoint, they may be checking for all sorts of traffic violations. Traffic checkpoints and driving while impaired (DWI) checkpoints can check for anything from out-of-date registration to drivers with felony warrants. The courts have determined that traffic checkpoints are generally legal but the way law enforcement conduct a checkpoint may be a violation of a driver's constitutional rights.

Law enforcement in North Carolina regularly set up sobriety checkpoints and traffic violation stops during the summer. This year, multiple agencies announced their DWI and boating while impaired campaign on the four busiest weekends of the summer: 

  • May 25 to 27
  • June 28 to 30
  • July 5 to 7 
  • August 31 to September 2

Traffic Checkpoint on Border With South Carolina

A few weeks ago, the Columbus County Sheriff's Office set up a checkpoint on the state line at the intersection of Hickman Road and Complex Street in Tabor City. On the South Carolina side, South Carolina law enforcement set up another checkpoint. During the operation, officers charged nearly 100 traffic and criminal violations. Fifty-six of the charges were issued on the North Carolina side. Traffic violations included driving without a license, insurance violations, and tag violations. One driver was charged with a DWI and drug possession. 

Traffic Checkpoint on the Border With Virginia

Recently, a similar multi-agency DWI checkpoint was set up involving law enforcement in Person County and Virginia law enforcement on the other side of the state border. The checkpoint did not make any DWI arrests but charged a number of other violations, including operating without a license, driving with a revoked license, and expired registration. 

DWI Checkpoint in North Carolina

It may not be surprising that these DWI checkpoints do not always result in drunk driver arrests in North Carolina. One of the primary reasons law enforcement use traffic checkpoints is the deterrent effect. This is also why law enforcement generally tell the public about the checkpoint before it begins. When drivers know that the sheriff's department or North Carolina State Highway Patrol is conducting checkpoints, they may be less likely to go out drinking without making a plan for getting home. 

Requirements for a DWI Checkpoint in North Carolina

The Supreme Court has ruled that DWI checkpoints are not illegal but they must generally meet certain requirements to ensure a driver's constitutional rights are not violated. Requirements for a valid sobriety checkpoint may include:

  • Cars are to be selected using a neutral basis,
  • Checkpoints are announced, 
  • Checkpoints should be set up in a reasonable time and place,
  • Checkpoints should be set up in a safe place, 
  • Supervising officers make operational decisions, and
  • Drivers are only to be stopped for a minimal amount of time.   

Ticketed or Arrested at a Checkpoint in North Carolina?

Just because you were ticketed or arrested during a traffic stop does not mean you are guilty of a crime. At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped drivers deal with traffic charges and other violations issued during traffic stops and checkpoints in North Carolina. Contact us today for a consultation.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar