Fighting For My Reputation

Fighting For My Reputation

Summer DUI Checkpoints: Know How To Handle Them

Luke Warren

One of the frequently-spotted features of summer driving is the DUI checkpoint -- which may scare you, even if you aren't driving while intoxicated. After all, you never know if the police officer stopping you will sniff out the beer you had with dinner and start a more in-depth investigation.

So how do you handle a DUI checkpoint? Can you just turn around? Here's what you should know.

Police aren't usually looking solely for intoxicated drivers. 

In many cases, DUI checkpoints aren't just set up to catch drivers who meet the definition of legally intoxicated -- which in every state is now a blood alcohol content of .08% or more. The police are also looking for drivers that seem impaired even if they blow less than .08% on a breathalyzer. 

This can be very problematic if you had a beer or two at dinner or even a glass of wine with a friend after work. Any admission that you've consumed alcohol in the last few hours is enough to give the officer probable cause to ask you to take a field sobriety test -- a test which is notoriously unreliable and difficult to pass.

You have a couple of choices when dealing with the situation.

There is no law forcing you to proceed through a DUI checkpoint if you can turn around or turn away without breaking any traffic laws. This is good news if you spot the DUI checkpoint far enough in advance to turn down a side street or go in another direction. Just be aware that if you break a traffic law, like making an illegal U-turn, you open yourself up to a traffic ticket -- and additional scrutiny from a police officer who is curious as to why you want to avoid the checkpoint.

Your other option is to proceed through the checkpoint with a clear understanding of your rights under the law. Since not every car passing through the checkpoint is directed to pull over, you may have no reason to worry. Your lack of hesitation certainly indicates that you are unconcerned, and that may be your greatest advantage.

If you are chosen for a stop, keep in mind the following facts:

  1. You have a 4th Amendment right that protects you from unwarranted search and seizure. Unless the officer has probable cause to give you a breathalyzer test, forcing you to take one is unconstitutional. If you are obliged to take one, your attorney can question the basis for the probable cause in court.
  2. You have a 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. That means that you do not have to answer questions from the officer like, "Where are you coming from?" or "What did you have to drink with dinner?" You can politely decline to answer any questions until you've spoken with your attorney. This may frustrate the officer, but it limits the amount of evidence that can be used against you in court.

If you're arrested at a sobriety checkpoint, the best thing you can do to help yourself is avoid giving the officer any ammunition that can be used against you in court. Contact a DUI attorney immediately for advice.


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Fighting For My Reputation

After I was accused of committing crime that I knew I wasn't guilty of, I realized that there were a few things I needed to take care of, and fast. For starters, I needed to focus on fighting for my reputation by working with a criminal attorney. I started looking around for a great lawyer who was qualified to take my case, and I was able to find a professional that I really felt comfortable with. They had a ton of experience and a commitment to keeping me happy, and within a few short months I was proven innocent. This blog is all about fighting for what you know is right.