There’s no doubt that law enforcement steps up their DUI enforcement efforts over the holidays, but what many drivers don’t realize is that a great number of DUI arrests are actually made at DUI checkpoints as opposed to roadside traffic stops. DUI checkpoints can be placed almost anywhere, and if you run into one, there will be no place to hide.
What is a DUI Checkpoint?
A DUI checkpoint is essentially a roadblock that is set up by law enforcement agencies to look for intoxicated drivers. At such checkpoints, officers will stop each vehicle as it passes through to look for signs of impairment, including slurred speech, glassy eyes, the odor of alcohol and open containers. In most cases, officers will also ask drivers for identification in the form of a driver’s license, and they may also check for proper insurance and vehicle registration information.
What are Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint?
There are a number of rights you have upon entering a DUI checkpoint, but what many drivers don’t realize is that they actually have the right to turn away before entering a checkpoint as long as proper road laws are obeyed.
If you choose to enter the checkpoint, you need to know that law enforcement may not conduct a search of your vehicle without probable cause. Essentially, as long as there is no proof that a crime has been committed, your vehicle can not be searched. If you are asked to take a chemical breath test at the checkpoint, you also have the right to refuse, but this may result in the immediate loss of your driver’s license and an arrest.
Another important right that drivers have at DUI checkpoints and during any other interactions with law enforcement is the right to remain silent. For instance, if you look at local DUI site such as http://www.orlandocriminalteam.com/dui-defense-attorney/, the information listed suggests to not answer any questions and that you do not have to incriminate yourself. If an officer is asking you whether you have had anything to drink, you do not need to answer the question, even if you have. Keep in mind that refusing to answer questions may cause officers to use intimidating tactics that are designed to get you to speak, but if you choose not to respond, then you do not have to.
If You’ve Been Arrested
If you’ve been arrested at a DUI checkpoint during the holidays or during any other time of the year, you should seek out the services of a DUI attorney as soon as possible. Additionally, you should make a mental note of everything that took place during your arrest, including the officers involved, the time, the location and whether any witnesses were present. This will help your lawyer to offer you defense strategies to help you beat your charges in court.
Finally, always remember that while you have rights when interacting with law enforcement, they also have a job to do. If you’ve been drinking and you’ve chosen to drive, you will eventually get caught, and as mentioned, DUI checkpoints can be found virtually anywhere. In order to avoid the possibility of being arrested for a DUI, always drink responsibly, and if you have to get somewhere after you’ve been drinking, find a sober driver or take public transportation – whatever you do, don’t drive drunk.
Nadine Swayne is a freelance writer who contributes this DUI information and advice to stress to think of your family and not to drink and drive over the Holidays. The law offices of Katz and Phillips, P.A. strongly suggest if you do partake in the Holiday celebrations, be responsible. If you need tips on safe driving, http://www.orlandocriminalteam.com/dui-defense-attorney/ will have some good points to keep your Holidays accident free.
Photo Credit: Greg Matthews http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregpm/ (CC BY-ND 2.0)