DUI checkpoints have been around for many years. Many people will look at these types of roadblocks as a way for law enforcement intimidating the public into forced behavior. In this case, preventing people from drinking and driving. While we obviously do not condone drinking and driving, we also do not want to see anyone wrongly detained or arrested for a crime they have not committed.
What is a DUI Checkpoint?
Technically, checkpoints are established to help protect citizens and deter people from a specific behavior. In this case, drinking and driving. There has been much scrutiny over the years as to the actual procedures for establishing a checkpoint (each state will have its own particular laws and guidelines). However, the good news for drivers is that each law enforcement agency must announce where and when checkpoints will be established. In essence, with a little research and some careful route planning, you should be able to avoid them altogether.
If, however, your travels make it impossible to avoid a local checkpoint, you should research local laws to know the exact rules of the local checkpoints. Some things to consider are:
- Police cannot automatically search your vehicle with no probable cause
- There must be some type of consistency in vehicles being stopped (such as every third car)
If law enforcement violates these basic principles, take note, as it may help your DUI attorney fight any charges filed against you because of the stop.
Answering Questions at a DUI Checkpoint
Officers are trained to ask drivers questions at DUI checkpoints that are not technically an interrogation. On the surface, these questions may seem innocent, but the officer is definitely trying to illicit a response that will give him or her a better idea as to whether or not you have been drinking. Some examples are:
- Have you been drinking tonight?
- Are you coming from dinner at a restaurant or party?
- Are you just coming back from or going to the game?
While the first question is obvious, many drivers will mistake the second and third question as idle chitchat. However, since some people will drink at a party, restaurant, or sporting event, a wrong answer to one of these questions could result in further investigation by the officer. In addition, the manner in which you answer these questions, meaning if you slur your words, could also give the officer reason enough to turn this checkpoint stop into a DUI violation.
You Can Refuse to Answer
The good news here is that you do not actually have to answer these questions. You can politely refuse to answer these questions because that is your legal right, regardless of the state. However, you should not do so in an aggressive or defensive manner, as it will put the officer on alert. Inform the officer you do not wish to answer any questions and inquire if you are free to go. If at this point you have not given the officer probable cause or shown any signs of intoxication, the officer has no legal right to detain you.
DUIRights Support is comprised of legal writers and attorneys who are able to generate useful information about issues relating to DUI. Please use all information at your own discretion and never use the information as legal advice without consulting with an attorney.
6 thoughts on “Are DUI Checkpoints Illegal and Should I Refuse to Answer All Questions?”
As someone who has been involved in a head-on collision resulting in serious injuries that was caused entirely by a drunk driver going down the wrong side of the Interstate, I think it’s important to have some perspective here. We should remember that we all want our roads to be free from the dangers presented by impaired drivers. We also want our individual rights to be recognized and respected by the police. So by all means, exercise your civil rights. But do it politely and in a way that is not adversarial or disrespectful to the police. Cooperate to the point required by law. After all, the police have a job to do, and it’s not always an easy one. Better yet, make it a point that if you do choose to drink or do drugs you don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Maybe we could do away with the need for DUI checkpoints altogether if more people would simply observe the law in this way. My childhood was f***ed because a man thought it would be okay to drink and drive. My little brother nearly died because of it. My mother was put in a wheelchair and lost a kidney and the use of her bladder because this one man made a poor decision. So try to keep that in mind when you encounter a DUI checkpoint. They unfortunately are there for a reason and do serve a purpose. Is the infringement on your time and the intrusive questioning really that bad if just one family can be spared what my family had to go through?
Jeffrey, I am sorry for what you have been through due to someone else drinking and driving. Hopefully people will see your comment and start to take drinking and driving seriously. While the checkpoints may potentially stop a tragic situation, we still do have to follow the constitution and this is definitely a gray area. Anyone blatantly drunk needs to be off the road. What concerns me are the ones who can responsibly have a few beers and have their life ruined for blowing a 0.09.
That is bad my son Jessie is going through a bad divorce there’s not a good divorce. Jessie doesn’t drink but he was married to a slut nit just saying this because he worked from daylight till dark and got home one day and forgot to call her and walked in on her and a black man she worked with at a McDonald’s and the same McDonald’s after the split up and pending divorce Jessie my son left his cousin home and drove 4 miles to the McDonald’s at 2 a.m and had a closed bottle of whiskey and someone from McDonald’s called the police 🚔 and by the time Jessie left the drive through he was pulled over. He forgot to turn his head lights on and that instally gave the popo reason to pull Jessie over and he didn’t know what to do and yes Jessie screwed himself. He thought if he told the police men plural 3 or 4 police. Wrong now he can’t get his license back until he puts a drive machine into my truck stupid if you ask me. Jessie works for a tree removal company and he would be driving one of their trucks so what the hell is the since of putting a machine in my personal truck if he’s driving a company truck it’s stupid.
3rd DUI? Sorry but he belongs in jail.
Anytime there are multiple offenses the courts do not get lenient. Unfortunately there is always jail time when there is a 3rd DUI charge. At this point there is not much more you can do.
my nephew got stopped pulling his trailer with his pup truck ,stop lite bulb out ,beer aroma gave him breath test .0803 ,cuffed him arrested him in prison 6 months ,has a good job truck mech ,weekend landscaper problem 3rd dui montgomery ,problem brother first year school teach developed throat cancer under treatment univ of pa plus meds divorced working mother single home dogs shrubery trees grass house needs ,,judge asked probation officer what do u want to do with this 29 yr old man ,she is at a stand still hatboro willow grove .0803 mother got him a lawyer ,he sent a letter of mercy that he believes we will have learned his lesson and not repeat this for the sake of his mother ,i have been helping cutting the bushes ,repaired the wash machine drain a plumber wanted 800 dollars to dig and it does’nt end there any suggestions …fri 12:20 i wish i would have seen this site first 2676886274