DUI Checkpoints or Sobriety Checkpoints can land you in jail. They can take away your driver's license. Know your rights.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
Yes. DUI Checkpoints are legal under the Constitution and in many states. Probable cause is not needed to stop you at a checkpoint.
Still there are requirements that must be followed by the officers running the checkpoint:
- Operational decisions are made by supervising officer.
- Neutral criteria must be in place to stop motorists
- Safety precautions must be taken
- Reasonable location.
- Time and duration must show good judgment
- Sufficient indicia showing it is official stop
- Motorists must be stopped for minimum time
- Checkpoints are preferably advertised in advance.
DUI checkpoints are constitutional, so long as these requirements are followed.
DUI checkpoint legality requires that all of these factors are met. Any failure to meet these factors may be used in your defense.
It is legal to avoid a checkpoint after you see it. But, you must follow all traffic laws. Making an illegal U-turn gives the officers cause to pull you over. Any other traffic violation will give cause just the same.
Checkpoints are often set-up to look like construction. Orange cones may be used to narrow lanes. Once you see that you are approaching a checkpoint there may be no legal way to avoid it.
Out there on the road, there may be no legal way to avoid a checkpoint after you see it. Still, if you can avoid it without a traffic violation that is allowed.
Factors that can lead to arrest
A police officer at a checkpoint will be watching for certain things. These are the factors that can lead to arrest:
- You and/or the car smell of alcohol.
- Reaching for the license and registration with difficulty.
- Difficulty answering questions.
- Open container or drug paraphernalia visible in the vehicle.
- Any physical signs such as slurred speech or red watery eyes.
DUI Checkpoint Refusal
You may make certain refusals at a DUI checkpoint. For instance you are not required to give verbal consent for the officers to search your vehicle. So, they may only conduct a search if they have probable cause.
You may refuse to answer when an officer asks if you have been drinking. However, being polite will usually give the best results in these situations.
One thing you can't refuse is to stop. You must stop your vehicle. Driving through the checkpoint is a violation and could be met with swiftly.
Must I show my license?
Yes. You are required to show your driver's license. Remember, it is a privilege to drive a vehicle, not a right. When asked, you must show your driver's license.
When officer asks if I've been drinking, do I have to reply?
The fifth amendment of the Constitution gives you the right not to reply. Of course, if you haven't been drinking the quickest thing may be to say so. In any case, being calm and acting with courtesy will usually help your case the most.