It is now common practice across the country for law enforcement to have DUI checkpoints during expected “drinking” holidays. Occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day Weekend, July 4 Weekend, and Labor Day Weekend are prime examples of when you will see a significant amount of DUI checkpoints. So, if you are at a DUI checkpoint, what are your rights?
First, know that the idea of having a DUI checkpoint has been before the courts before and was ruled as not being a violation of your amendment rights. However, there are still certain rules that must be followed by the officers when a checkpoint is being conducted. Most notably, the officers must show consistency in checking cars. In other words, they must only automatically stop a certain car in line, such as every fifth car.
Your Rights During a DUI Checkpoint Stop
- You may refuse to answer any questions the officer asks you. You can refuse to talk until you have an attorney present.
- You may refuse to allow the officers to search your car. Unless the officers have due cause, they cannot search the vehicle without your permission. The only way this right is superseded is if the officer sees something suspect upon his or her visual search while you are stopped or if there is suspicious behavior.
- You may refuse any road tests or to appear in any type of a lineup.
- If you are arrested, you have the right to arrange to have your possessions and/or vehicle safely transported from its current position. If the officers refuse this right, the department/city/state can be held liable for any damages caused, or damages or loss incurred to your property.
- If the officers are not holding you under arrest, you cannot be detained unwillingly. You have the right to leave.
While you have these rights, it is also very important to be respectful of the officers. They are, after all, only doing their job. Any hostile or overly-suspicious behavior may be deemed threatening and give them just cause to search your vehicle or hold you under arrest for suspicion of DUI.
There are often significant penalties, fines, and/or jail time associated with a DUI, so there is absolutely no need to aggravate the situation. Criminal charges remain on your background record for life, so being polite and courteous is a small price to pay to avoid suspicion and possible DUI arrest.
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