A drunk driving checkpoint — often called a DUI checkpoint or a sobriety checkpoint — is simply a place on the road where the police talk to all drivers coming through. They can then determine if any of them are intoxicated. The majority of drivers are only detained for a moment and allowed to carry on, but some are arrested.
This is a controversial practice because police typically need probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, but they stop everyone at a checkpoint. Regardless, courts have ruled that this is not an illegal practice, so here are a few things you need to know.
Turning around is problematic
Technically, you are free to avoid a checkpoint if you want. For instance, you can turn on the road right before it. However, turning around can cause problems if you do anything illegal in the process, like making a U-turn. On top of that, it appears suspicious, so police will look for a reason to stop you.
You’ll need to present ID and more
Just as with a traffic stop, the police will ask for your license and registration. Have this paperwork ready, along with proof of your insurance. Though these are DUI checkpoints, they can ticket or arrest you for other violations, as well.
Any type of impairment is illegal
It’s not just alcohol use that is illegal. Drivers who are impaired by illegal drugs or prescription drugs may also face arrest. You cannot be under the influence of anything.
Police may ask you to pull to the side
If they want to talk to you further or ask to search your car, the police may ask you to pull to the side. They do need probable cause to do this, but it doesn’t take much. An officer may claim your breath smelled like alcohol, for instance, or that you fumbled with your ID when you were getting it out.
A DUI can have a major impact on your life
As controversial as they are, checkpoints continue to be used and arrests are made. If you are facing serious charges that are going to change your life, you must know what legal options you have.