Whether you’re an experienced driver or have only recently gotten your license, there’s a pretty good chance that you know the sinking feeling you get in your gut when you see flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror. But do you know what to do when you see them ahead of you, accompanied by traffic cones directing you into a DUI checkpoint?
DUI checkpoints are designed to keep our roadways safe from people who are driving under the influence. They do so by setting up road barricades in random spots so that they can check drivers who are out and about to see whether they show signs of intoxication. Though many police forces set up DUI checkpoints on dates and times that are more likely to see people out imbibing (think St. Patrick’s Day or July 4th), they can be set up at any time. If you are pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, you need to understand what your legal obligations and rights are.
The first thing you need to know is that the police will be looking for obvious signs of intoxication. Unlike pulling a driver over for weaving or some other moving indication of driving under the influence, the police will be looking for open or empty alcohol containers, the smell of alcohol, or for drivers to be slurring their words or in some other way acting inebriated. If they don’t see anything questionable they will tell you to move on and continue on their way, but if they have probable cause to believe that you are intoxicated you will be asked to pull over for further examination.
If you see a checkpoint, you must pull over. Trying to evade a DUI checkpoint is cause for the police to pursue you, and may even represent an illegal maneuver depending upon where the checkpoint is located. You should have your driver’s window down and your driver’s license, insurance and registration card out and ready in case you are asked for it. Being prepared removes the possibility that the police can interpret your nervousness or hesitation as intoxication.
Frequently, when a driver is nervous, they tend to say things that can lead to trouble. The key to dealing with a DUI checkpoint is to answer the questions that you are asked and not to volunteer anything. Don’t say where you have or haven’t been or what you have or have not been drinking. Be polite and accommodating and avoid being sarcastic or appearing angry: DUI checkpoints are there for the protection of the public. They are not personal and they were not set up to annoy or delay you.
Perhaps most importantly of all, remember that if the officers ask you to take a breath test you are best served by agreeing to do it. When you applied for your driver’s license you gave the police permission to test you and agreed that you would comply with requests. Refusal can result in your losing your license, even if you didn’t have a single drink. It is easier for an experienced attorney to question results than to argue about whether you should have refused to take the test.
For more information, contact our team today.