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Are the NOPD Checkpoints Legal?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of checkpoints set up by NOPD during the morning rush. The check points I saw were on Calliope between St. Charles Ave. and Carondelet Streets, but I’m sure there are others. Louisiana law requires DWI check-points to be published beforehand. The law probably also requires other traffic checkpoints to be published as well. You can find an example of an Orleans Parish Sobriety Checkpoint announcement here.

Why is NOPD Conducting a Checkpoint in the Morning?

How is the NOPD getting away with these unlawful checkpoints? They are using expired brake tags as a pre-text to stop a driver to check everything about them and their car: license and registration check, insurance check, seat belts, “smell of marijuana,” broken taillights, and sobriety. The Louisiana/Orleans Parish law requires that these types for checkpoints are published before they happen. The notice requires the municipality to say where the checkpoint will take place, the time frame, and date, but court has interpreted the notice requirement broadly. In New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, notices usually just say, “A checkpoint will be happening in Orleans Parish on the day and during the times.”


Warning to New Orleans Drivers

It’s apparent that the New Orleans Police Department is thin in numbers and this is causing a lot of new changes around the city. Regardless, this should not be happening. Remember, that no matter where you are, and what time of day or which day of the week it is, you should be serious about your driving. If you plan to drink, take other modes of transportation or find a sober driver. Additional things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your driver’s license and car registration are up to date
  • Make sure that you have car insurance and that it is up to date
  • Make sure you have a brake tag and it is not expired
    • You can get fined up to $350 for an expired brake tag!
    • Here’s a list of places you can renew your brake tag.
  • Do not use illegal drugs. If you’re going to use illegal drugs, do not transport them in your car or use them in your car, especially marijuana.
  • Check your taillights periodically. Although you should just get a warning if you are caught with a broken taillight, the NOPD can fine you.
  • Wear your seat belt at all times and tell all your passengers to wear your seat belts as well. If you have small children, please review the Louisiana child passenger seat laws here.

Punishments for a DWI Conviction

If you are charged and convicted for a DWI (driving while under the influence), you can face hefty fines and/or jail time, in addition to a suspended driver’s license or driving privileges, increased insurance rates, driving school requirements and/or possible mandated community service. On January 1, 2015, new DWI laws took effect in Louisiana. For those arrested and convicted of a DWI in New Orleans, you may not only have to pay a $300-$1,000, but possibly have to serve 48 hours of jail time as well as no less than 32 hours of court-approved community service. And, if you have a child in your car while arrested for drinking and driving, you will be required to serve jail time. Think twice about taking the car to go out drinking.

What Happens if I’m Stopped at a Checkpoint in New Orleans?

When you are stopped at an un-publicized checkpoint, follow the officer’s instructions and comply with their orders. Now is not the time to tell that what you think the law is. After you receive your ticket, call an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately.

If you are arrested for a DWI as a result of a checkpoint, it is always worth fighting your DWI, especially if it was at a checkpoint that was unannounced. If the checkpoint was not properly advertised, your case is likely to be dismissed! If you have been arrested for a DWI, please call (504) 264-9492 immediately. Crescent City Law is a trusted law firm that has worked with hundreds of people who were arrested for DWI and other traffic tickets. Contact us immediately by calling (504) 264-9492 or e-mailing us if you or someone you know has been arrested for DWI in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish or Louisiana.

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