DUI checkpoints are a fairly common tactic used by the police to try to catch those who have been driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. While these checkpoints are certainly very controversial, the Supreme Court determined that they are legal as long as the police meet some specific requirements when performing them. Just because it is legal, however, doesn’t mean that the police can do whatever they want. Understanding your rights can help ensure you handle these situations appropriately and keep yourself safe from legal problems.
When Can Police Conduct a Checkpoint?
In order for a police checkpoint to be legal, they must meet a number of guidelines that were established by the US Supreme Court. These requirements are as follows:
- The police must have chosen the roadblock time and place for a valid reason.
- There must be a police supervisor on site.
- The police conducting the checkpoint must be in uniform.
- The date, time, and location of the checkpoint must be made public in advance.
- The cars that are stopped must be stopped in a predictable pattern (every third vehicle, for example)
- The location of the checkpoint must be safe for a checkpoint.
- The stop of each vehicle must be brief and the inconvenience to motorists minimized.
- The checkpoint needs to be able to document its effectiveness.
What Can the Police Do at a Checkpoint?
If the police stop you at a checkpoint, they can only do certain things without further probable cause. They are allowed to ask you to roll down your window and provide your driver’s license and proof of insurance. They can also ask you reasonable questions, including whether you have been drinking. Keep in mind, that you do not have to answer these questions. You are permitted to state that you are exercising your right to remain silent. This may, however, be used as probable cause to perform further inquiries to determine if you have been driving under the influence.
If the police see anything illegal such as open alcohol containers, drugs or drug paraphernalia, or other items, they have the right to conduct a search of your vehicle. You do not, however, have to consent to the search of your vehicle. The police will most likely ask for your consent, which you typically shouldn’t give. In most cases, they will search the vehicle anyway, but your refusal of consent can give you an effective defense option should you be arrested. If the police think you have been drinking, they will likely ask you to take a breathalyzer test. Again, while they are allowed to ask you to take the test, you don’t have to consent. Just keep in mind, however, that refusal to take this type of test will likely result in the revocation of your driver’s license.
Never Incriminate Yourself
While it is a good idea to obey the direct commands of a police officer at a checkpoint, you should not do something to incriminate yourself, such as telling them you’ve been drinking. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, make sure you stay calm and say nothing other than demanding that you speak with an attorney right away. When you are given the option to make a phone call, please contact Beaufort DUI to get the best legal representation possible.