What to Do at a DUI Checkpoint
How Do You Handle a DUI Checkpoint?
Sobriety checkpoints function to help detect and arrest drunk drivers while deterring other drivers from committing DUI. The perceived risk of arrest has a strong influence on people’s decisions, as these checkpoints are highly visible, publicized, and conducted regularly in many cities. The thought of getting caught at a DUI checkpoint is enough to convince many people that it’s not worth the risk.
The CDC reviewed several reliable studies and found that DUI checkpoints reduced alcohol-related fatal injury and property damage crashes each by about 20%. Other evidence reveals that highly publicized, visible, and frequent sobriety checkpoints reduce fatal impaired driving crashes by 18% to 24%.
As you can see, DUI checkpoints can be greatly effective when executed properly. While many argue that sobriety checkpoints are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court holds that the government’s interest in having checkpoints sometimes outweighs the inconvenience to drivers.
So, what can you expect at a DUI checkpoint?
Officers will tell you to stop your vehicle and roll down the window. They are lawfully allowed to see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. In doing so, they will evaluate you for certain signs of impairment, such as:
- Odor of alcohol
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Inability to answer questions properly
- Drugs or alcohol in the vehicle
If an officer has reasonable suspicion that you are impaired or intoxicated, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test, whether it be the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn, or one-leg stand test. From there, an officer may ask you to submit a breath sample either at the checkpoint or at the police station. If you get to this point in the process, you are encouraged to speak to a lawyer.
Do You Have to Answer Questions at a DUI Checkpoint?
At a DUI checkpoint and any traffic stop for that matter, you are only required to respond when an officer asks for your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration. By law, you do not have to answer any questions besides those. Inevitably, the police may ask you more questions, such as, “Where are you coming from? Where are you headed to? How much have you had to drink?”
You do not have to answer these questions. Politely exercise your right to remain silent rather than lie to or argue with the police. Doing so could only get you in deeper turmoil. You can respectfully decline to answer the police officer’s questions by saying something like, “I do not want to answer questions without an attorney present,” or “I’m invoking my Fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination.”
Speak to a Lawyer Today
Sobriety checkpoints can be uncomfortable and intimidating but remember your rights. If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. If an officer does suspect you of DUI at a checkpoint, however, you should contact a lawyer right away.
Our criminal defense experts at Brickfield & Donahue are just a phone call away at (201) 574-7919!