Sobriety checkpoints can be a very useful tool for law enforcement to stop anyone driving under the influence (DUI) from potentially endangering other drivers, as well as themselves. While they may be set up occasionally, they can be effective when it comes to keeping the roads safe. Drivers who encounter them do not need to worry, at least for the most part. It is a relatively routine procedure where a police officer will have you come to a complete stop, ask you to roll down your windows, provide certain information along with answering a few questions, and if nothing suspicious comes up, they will send you on your way.
However, sometimes DUI checkpoints do not work out that simply which often results in legal challenges. Because checkpoints fall into a legal gray area, your rights, along with an officer’s conduct, can be a topic of much scrutiny in a court of law. If you have recently found yourself in a situation where you are facing charges after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, get in touch with a Camden County criminal defense attorney from Thomas Demarco & Associates, LLC for more information about your next steps.
How do my rights work when I am stopped at a sobriety checkpoint?
One of the most important things to keep in mind regarding sobriety checkpoints is that you are under no legal obligation to drive through one if you do not want to. Despite the fact that DUI checkpoints are considered constitutional, they are not the same thing as a police officer pulling you over under normal circumstances. While you would be legally required to pull over if law enforcement due to probable cause, there is no reasonable cause when it comes to checkpoints. This means that if you see a checkpoint coming in advance, there is nothing illegal about you avoiding it in some capacity that does not involve committing any traffic violations.
However, that does not mean you are incapable of triggering any suspicion by doing so. For example, if you were to suddenly veer away or make an immediate U-turn right as you are about to approach a checkpoint, that could come off as suspicious behavior which may prompt an officer to pull you over. It is essential that if you plan to avoid a sobriety checkpoint, you do so in a manner that does not come off as questionable to law enforcement.
After being stopped at a DUI checkpoint, if a police officer asks you to answer a question that could incriminate you, you have the right to plead the fifth amendment and refuse to take a breathalyzer or any field sobriety tests. Although, this could result in an arrest, which would subject you to a chemical test afterward. In any case, it is crucial to have skilled legal counsel working on your behalf.