DUI Checkpoints: Are They Legal and What to Do When You Get to One?

DUI checkpoints seem to come and go and it’s due to their transitory nature that there are many misconceptions about their legality and how you should handle a sobriety checkpoint if you find yourself approaching one or stopped by the police while under the influence. Case in point, a Florida attorney’s actions quickly became the subject of controversy when he adamantly refused to cooperate at a DUI checkpoint and instead, pressed a “legal rights” leaflet with his requested legal documents against the window of his car.

His actions and argument that was obviously culled from case law and solid legal principles have inspired many people because it was indeed within his constitutional rights to act as he did. Police set up DUI checkpoints at pre-planned locations, stop randomly-selected vehicles, use a set of predetermined criteria to briefly question the driver to detect and ultimately arrest any impaired driver in the name of reducing traffic fatalities. While it’s true that “if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t be apprehensive,” however, DUI checkpoints represent an intrusion on motorist’s freedom because there are many mistakes in which cops make when instituting a DUI checkpoint.

Under state law, police officers are permitted to set up sobriety checkpoints mostly during holidays and weekends in specific areas surrounding entertainment joints where most people are likely to drink and be on the road for the purpose of investigating and evaluating passing motorists and further detain drivers whom they have solid prof are driving while impaired. While state courts permit these checkpoints if conducted properly but what most people don’t know is that they can exert their constitutional rights at a DUI checkpoint if you have a probable cause and you can invoke the 5th therefore, you are only required to cooperate. 

The arresting officer has the mandate to stop you briefly and if you are caught driving under the influence you also need to know instances where your legal rights are limited and whether you choose to waive your rights or not, you have to disclose everything to your attorney pertaining to your response during the arrest before confessing or agreeing to a plea bargain. DUI officers at roadblocks may also use drug-sniffing dogs on certain occasions nonetheless, they still must abide by what the law permits them to do when they form these checkpoints, for example:

  • An officer can stop and ask you to roll down your window to address you face to face
  • You must provide them with your driver’s license, proof of car insurance and registration when asked
  • If you present with signs of intoxication then be prepared to participate in a Field Sobriety test of which if you fail, you’ll more than likely be arrested under the implied consent rule
  • If an arrest warrant or search warrant is issued, then the exercise is deemed legal and you will need a DUI attorney to help with your case in court

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