Know Your Rights At DUI Checkpoints In The United States

The 4th Amendment of the US Constitution protects US citizens from unlawful search by requiring probable cause. But in 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6 to 3 decision that the danger of drunk driving far outweighs the small intrusion of DUI checkpoints for sober drivers. Thus, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints are constitutional, and thus are a legal form of law enforcement.

State DUI Checkpoint Laws

When learning about your rights at DUI checkpoints in the United States, you have to first consider the state you live in. Like many laws in this country, DUI laws vary by state. Twelve states, contrary to Federal views, consider DUI checkpoints to be illegal. If you live in or are traveling through one of these states, then you don't have to worry about DUI checkpoints. The 12 states that do not conduct DUI checkpoints are:

  1. Alaska
  2. Idaho
  3. Iowa
  4. Michigan
  5. Minnesota
  6. Montana
  7. Oregon
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Texas
  10. Washington
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Wyoming

And then there are the states where DUI checkpoints are legal, but are met with great opposition. For example: in Boca Raton, Florida, an attorney named Warren Redlich gained the media's attention by creating the "Fair DUI Flier." This is basically a piece of paper that a driver can post on his or her windshield or hold up to the window during a DUI checkpoint that states they will not roll down their window to talk to a police officer; they will not allow any searches of their vehicle; and they want their lawyer. Redlich also stated that the driver should hold up his or her driver's license, insurance card, and vehicle registration. Florida drivers are reporting success with this method of getting through DUI checkpoints in the state, saying that with their refusal to speak, a police officer can't claim the driver's speech is impaired and request further DUI testing.

The Scope Of Your Rights, Regardless Of The State You're Traveling In

Regardless of what state you are in, here are some of your rights and guidelines on what you should or should not do if you go through a DUI Checkpoint:

  • You are not legally required to answer questions from a police officer at a DUI checkpoint. But if you refuse to answer questions, you may have to undergo a more rigorous evaluation, or you may be arrested. The police officers are asking you these questions to make assumptions about your level of intoxication based off your answers and the way you are speaking.
  • Don't lie. It's better to simply refuse to answer a question politely than to lie. You could state that you refuse to answer any questions without the presence of your lawyer. This could save you from inadvertently providing incriminating evidence that could be used against you in court in the future, if it comes to that.
  • Ask if you can leave as soon as the questioning is over. At this time, the officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test to further evaluate your level of alcohol consumption and your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. You can refuse this test, but if you do, then you could be arrested. While you don't want to be arrested, in some situations this is the best option because you will prevent the creation of any evidence that can be used in court against you.
  • You may lose your license immediately if you refuse a blood test. If you do get arrested because you refused to take a field sobriety test, then you can expect to have a blood test as soon as you get to the police station. If you refuse this as well, you will receive an immediate punishment. This punishment varies by state. But in Georgia, for example, your license will be suspended for one year if it's your first offense.

Armed with this information, you are now more familiar with your rights at DUI checkpoints in the United States. As long as you stay calm and follow these guidelines and you are not driving drunk, then you should pass through the checkpoint with no issues. If you have any more questions, contact a DUI attorney at a law firm such as Kassel & Kassel A Group of Independent Law Offices. He or she would be happy to help you.