DUI Checkpoints and What You Should Know

January 10, 2019

If you have ever gone through a DUI checkpoint and wondered what your rights are, you’re not alone. However, if you have never gone through one or even heard of one, a DUI checkpoint is a way for police officers to crack down on driving under the influence. Sometimes there will be signs posted days before the events, or you might not know they are happening. Officers will stop people based on a pattern like every four cars, and assess for signs of alcohol impairment.

In eleven states, DUI checkpoints are not permitted. In the states that do them, there are guidelines that officers have to follow. The Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that DUI checkpoints don’t require probable cause provided that these guidelines are followed. They came about this decision after considering that they are in the best interest of the general public to crack down on driving under the influence.

What Are Your Rights?

You might be wondering what your rights are in situations like these. As much as people want to argue this, you do not have the right to avoid a checkpoint. If you are coming up to a checkpoint and decide to take a detour or turn around, the police will then have the right to follow you. However, you do have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, as well as the field sobriety test. In some states, this can be seen as evidence of guilt, so proceed with caution.

What Can Police Officers Do?

A police officer does not need a warrant to search your car for drugs or alcohol if they can clearly smell it. They also have the right to search your car based on suspicious signs that could be caused by drugs and alcohol. A police officer does need reasonable suspicion or probable cause to investigate crimes discovered during the interaction with you at the checkpoint.

DUI checkpoints don’t have to be intimidating or anything to be worried about. Staying calm and respectful will keep the checkpoint running smoothly and avoid any unnecessary complications. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights at a DUI checkpoint, call our office and we would be happy to help.

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