New Hampshire law requires police departments to obtain a court’s approval before setting up an NH sobriety checkpoint to screen drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Researchers in the field of drunk driving prevention say that sobriety checkpoints work best when the community has plenty of notice about when and where the checkpoint will be. But what kind of sobriety checkpoint notice is required?
The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled in State v. Hunt (2007) advanced notice isn’t required by New Hampshire law in order to make sobriety checkpoints constitutional. Rather, notice is strongly recommended by the state’s Attorney General, and most law enforcement agencies make an effort to give some kind of notice. In fact, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found that a same-day notice printed in one local newspaper was enough to make a sobriety checkpoint constitutional.
The Court stated that more notice would have been better, but that one same-day article was legally sufficient. More notice is also recommended by experts, who say that much of the deterrent effect of sobriety checkpoints comes from local drivers knowing they might be stopped, so they choose to avoid driving if they have been drinking at all.