Of course, the best way to avoid a DUI is to not drink and drive (duh!), but with random and non-targeted DUI checkpoints, you should be aware of your rights in case you’re ever faced with this situation.
If you get pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, be sure to remember that police cannot search your car unless they feel that they have probable cause (it smells like alcohol, for instance), or you grant them permissions. You also don’t have to answer any questions that you don’t want to (under the 5th amendment). If you don’t want to tell the officer how many drinks you’ve had, well, you don’t have to.
If the officer asks to breathalyze you, you have every right to refuse. But, remember that the officer has the right to arrest you if he or she feels that they have probable cause. If you do refuse the breathalyzer, it is likely that the police will ask you to step out of your car, so be prepared for that.
Once you exit your car, the police officer will ask you to complete a few “field sobriety exercises,” which provide more subjective proof of a potential DUI. You can also refuse to perform these, but then at this point, the officer has two options: He or she can either let you go or take you into police custody. Still at this point, an arrest does not always translate into a DUI, though in many states, refusing the previously mentioned tests can result in the suspension of your driver’s license for at least one year.
If you have a previous DUI conviction all of these rules go out the window and everything changes. In this case, refusing the breathalyzer can be a misdemeanor in many states and is obviously grounds for arrest.
So of course, first and foremost, we hope that no one is ever driving while under the influence. But, if you’re ever stopped at a checkpoint, it really is important to know your rights.
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