Are DUI Checkpoints Really Legal?
The question of whether DUI checkpoints are really legal is often debated around the holidays, when drivers are more likely to be stopped and arrested. Even after the holidays are over, however, many people continue to question whether officers have the right to stop someone without probable cause. Is it really legal for a police officer to make a DUI arrest based solely on his or her observations at a checkpoint?
Court Cases Regarding DUI Checkpoints
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that drivers can be detained for “informational” purposes through a checkpoint. However, activists have now taken to social media to spread the word of how to possibly avoid an arrest at a DUI checkpoint and to educate others on their legal rights. The Supreme Court has ruled that as long as DUI checkpoints do not target specific drivers, they are legal. Therefore, law enforcement agencies are usually very careful to set up pre-arranged parameters, such as stopping every third vehicle or asking the same questions of each driver. However, the courts have also been very clear about the driver’s rights in such a situation. Many drivers are surprised to learn that they are not required by law to answer any questions asked by law enforcement officers. Of course, this may alert the police to the fact that a driver might be drinking.
What Should I Do If I Am Stopped?
The simplest way to avoid a DUI is to avoid drinking and driving. This means either avoid alcohol when you are behind the wheel or have a designated driver for your group. Arizona law enforcement officers say that they have seen a large increase in the number of designated drivers in the past few years and believe it may be related to the drop in overall DUI arrests over the same time period. However, if you have been drinking and are behind the wheel, you may still have some options. Rather than remain completely silent, it might be better to have a pre-arranged answer ready if you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint. If an officer requests your driver’s license and registration, you must produce it. However, if an officer begins to ask you questions about what you have been doing, you have the right not to answer. A good approach may be to ask a question in return such as, “Officer, am I under arrest?” If the officer says you are not, you may ask if you are free to leave. If you are arrested for DUI, contact the Oswalt Law Group in Phoenix immediately. It is important that you talk to an attorney before making any statements to the police.