How to Behave at a DUI Checkpoint: Understanding Your Rights
Police departments are cracking down more than ever on drinking and driving. As a result, DUI-task forces have received increased funding. This provides manpower and resources dedicated to catch drunk drivers. Another common method used to cut back on DUIs is that of setting up a DUI checkpoint. Whether you've been drinking or not, it's important to know how to behave at a DUI checkpoint.
What is a DUI Checkpoint?
If you're a new driver, you may not be familiar with DUI checkpoints. These are areas where police have set up a road barricade. Each driver in a DUI checkpoint is stopped and checked for signs of intoxication. Some of the signs are bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, and empty containers visible in the car.
If there is probable cause to believe that a driver is intoxicated, he or she will get detained. They will be asked to pull to the side of the road for further examination. All other drivers will be waived through the checkpoint and able to continue with their drive.
DO Have Documentation Ready
If you come to a DUI checkpoint, don't turn around. Not only will this look suspicious, but it may be illegal if you pull a U-turn to do so. Instead, get your documentation ready (driver's license, insurance, registration, etc.). This way, in the event that the officer asks for it, he or she doesn't get the opportunity to make the case that you were "fumbling" for your documentation. You should also roll your window down a reasonable amount to speak with the officer as you approach the checkpoint.
DON'T Volunteer Any Information
Regardless of whether you've had a couple beers or haven't touched a drop of alcohol all day, remember that you only need to provide the officer with basic information that he or she asks about. This may include:
- whether you've had anything to drink
- where you're heading/where you came from
Don't go out of your way to volunteer information that could get used against you later on.
DO Have Some Patience
Understand that the purpose of a DUI checkpoint is to keep the roads safer for you and other drivers. As such, you should try to be patient and understanding in the event that you come across one. As long as you haven't had too much to drink, you should be through the checkpoint and on your way in a matter of minutes. In the meantime, be considerate and polite to the officers you come into contact with.
DON'T Refuse a Breath Test
If you're asked to do a breath test, understand that it's in your best interest to comply. All too often, people refuse the breath test when they've had too much to drink. They make an assumption that they cannot get arrested if there isn't breath-test proof.
This is just not true. If you refuse a breath test, not only could you get charged with refusal, but you'll likely get detained and brought into the police station for a blood test instead. This can be a long and drawn out process that will only delay the inevitable and make things worse for you in the event that you're over the limit.
All in all, a DUI checkpoint is nothing to worry about, assuming that you're driving sober. In fact, DUI checkpoints can make the roads safer for everyone. Be sure to keep these important dos and don'ts in mind in the event that you encounter a checkpoint while driving.