Be Cautious of DUI Checkpoints

Whenever a holiday arises, make sure that if you choose to imbibe you do so responsibly and that you don’t drink and drive. As there is usually a spike in drunk driving over holiday weekends, you can bet that law enforcement officers in your state will be out in full force during these days and will likely set up driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoints on roads that have experienced a disproportionately high number of drunk drivers in the past.

What Is a DUI Checkpoint?

A DUI checkpoint (also sometimes referred to as a “DUI roadblock” or a “sobriety checkpoint”) is a traffic stop set up by law enforcement officials that is meant to catch drunk drivers and to deter other drivers from driving drunk in the future. DUI checkpoints are not permitted in all states, but they are allowed in the majority of states as long as certain requirements are met. For example, in some states, DUI checkpoints must:

•     Be reasonably located

•     Take adequate safety precautions

•     Have neutral criteria for determining which vehicles are stopped

•     Not detain drivers more than a minimal amount of time

•     Be publicly advertised in advance

Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?

The Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement officers to have probable cause before pulling a driver over. In other words, a traffic stop is generally only deemed to be constitutional if the officer conducting the stop had a reasonable basis for believing that a crime had been committed. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that drivers can legally be stopped at DUI checkpoints without probable cause because the amount of inconvenience that these stops inflict on drivers is outweighed by the importance of curbing drunk driving.

Your Rights When Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint

If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint it is important that you know what you can and cannot legally do. In other words, it is important to know your rights. For example, did you know that you are within your legal rights not to answer a police officer’s questions when stopped at a DUI checkpoint? You also have the right to deny consent to search your vehicle. However, please be aware that the police may search your vehicle above your objections if they have probable cause and a warrant to do so.

Furthermore, if you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint and are asked to perform a field sobriety test know that you have the right to refuse unless you are placed under arrest under suspicion of driving under the influence.

Let Us Help You with Your Case

Whether you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint or after having been pulled over it is important that you consult with a skilled lawyer, about your legal options and how best to protect your rights.