DUI checkpoints are nothing new, but even today, many people consider these types of police-led roadblocks as a form of intimidating the public into a forced behavior; for example, not drinking and driving. Although it is certainly advisable that no one drinks and drives, as a DUI lawyer, we also do not wish to see people who have been wrongfully detained or arrested for something they did not do.
In theory, checkpoints are set up to protect the public and prevent drivers from engaging in certain behaviors. Over the years, many Americans have scrutinized the way checkpoint procedures have been conducted. Although all states have their own rules, law enforcement agencies are required to announce the location and time a checkpoint will be set up. Technically, if you plan ahead, checkpoints could be avoided. However, many are set up in areas that don’t have an excess of alternative routes. If you must go through a checkpoint, you should know the local rules, and also consider:
- Police cannot search your car without probable cause
- There must be consistent, or the use of a neutral formula, in the vehicle being stopped (for example every third or fifth car)
- Adequate safety measures must be taken
- The police officer must identify themselves
- The checkpoint cannot be operated for extended periods of time
- Law enforcement cannot hold you for anything longer than actually needed
If law enforcement happens to violate any of the following, you should make a note of it. If you were detained, arrested, or charged, be sure to mention the possible violations to your DUI lawyer.
Answering Questions at a Checkpoint Setup for a DUI
The police officers at DUI checkpoints have been trained in such a way that they may appear to be asking you random, surface level question, when they are really looking for an illicit response that would help him or her to understand whether you have been drinking. This is done because interrogations cannot be done at a checkpoints. Examples of questions may include:
- Are you coming home from dinner?
- Have you been drinking?
- Are you just coming back from the game?
Although the questions might seem obvious, the way in which they are asked could cause you to accidentally make a mistake resulting in a further investigation. The officer is also looking for subtle body language, slurred words, and other mannerisms which may suggest intoxication. If you exhibit any of the aforementioned, field sobriety tests may be given.
You do not have to answer any questions. It is your legal right to decline. However, if you choose to invoke this legal right you should do so in a respectful, polite manner. Any aggressiveness could alert the officer and cause further problems. Simple state that you do not wish to answer the questions. You can follow this up by asking if you are free to go. If there is no probable cause, the police officer cannot legally detain you.
If you believe your rights were violated at a DUI checkpoint or you were arrested and charged with a DUI while going through one, you should consult a DUI lawyer Salt Lake City, UT relies on.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into DUI checkpoints and DUI charges.