Understanding Your Rights At A DUI Checkpoint
Believe it or not, police-conducted DUI checkpoints are completely legal across the United States. While they're not incredibly common, DUI checkpoints can be established on any public road, provided that the police give advance notice of the checkpoint and conduct themselves accordingly while stopping vehicles. Whether you've experienced a DUI checkpoint stop in the past or not, it's important that you fully understand your rights so that you can be prepared to handle yourself properly in the event that you do run into one in the future.
You Don't Have to Answer Questions
First of all, according to the fifth amendment of the United States Constitution, you're under no obligation to answer an officer's questions (aside from identifying yourself by name). Specifically, if an officer asks you how much you've had to drink, you have every right to reply with something along the lines of "I prefer not to answer that question." If you haven't been drinking at all, however, it's probably in your best interest to simply say so. Otherwise, an officer may see your refusal to answer such a simple question as a sign that you have something to hide.
They Can't Search Your Car
At a DUI checkpoint, a police officer isn't allowed to search your car without probable cause. However, an officer can peer into your car's windows to look for open beer cans, liquor bottles, or signs of any other substances you shouldn't have in your car. If the officer sees anything of the sort in your car or otherwise has probable cause to believe you've been drinking (for example, your breath smells like alcohol), he or she may ask you to pull over. At that point, the vehicle can be searched.
If you have nothing to hide, it's probably in your best interest to consent to an officer searching your car.
You Can Refuse a Breathalyzer and Sobriety Tests
It's also your right to refuse a breathalyzer exam or field sobriety tests. However, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that you've been drinking, you can still be arrested at this time. From there, the officer will need to execute a search warrant for your blood, at which point your blood will be drawn to determine if there's an illegal amount of alcohol in your system. Therefore, while you can refuse such preliminary exams, it's probably not in your best interest to do so. Visit http://www.bradylawoffice.com for more information.