There are certain situations that are important to understand before you find yourself in them because fear and tension impact your decision-making in the moment. Knowing your rights before you interact with law enforcement officers in a stressful scenario like a sobriety checkpoint can be the difference between making the right decision and compromising your legal position.
Sobriety checkpoints serve a critical law enforcement purpose. They allow officers to conduct widespread searches for impaired drivers in a short amount of time. That could mean that you wind up arrested because the police want to stop every vehicle traveling on a certain road to talk to the drivers and evaluate them for potential impairment.
What are your rights if you encounter a sobriety checkpoint or DUI roadblock while driving?
You technically don’t have to drive through the checkpoint
Unless you don’t realize there’s a checkpoint ahead until you’re trapped between other vehicles and can no longer maneuver, it may be possible to avoid the sobriety checkpoint once you realize there is one ahead.
There is nothing illegal about deciding to alter your course and take a different road to avoid an inconvenience. However, officers might notice you turning around and driving away, which might lead to another officer conducting a one-on-one traffic stop.
You do have options for defense if you get arrested
Sobriety checkpoints are legal to conduct, provided that officers perform them the right way. Generally, they will stop every vehicle for just a moment, ask the driver to roll down their window and briefly speak with that person. The goal is to check for signs of impairment, including slurred speech or the telltale smell of alcohol or other intoxicating substances.
If an officer notices something that they think implies impairment, they may then have you pull over to perform a more thorough stop, which could include a field sobriety test and chemical testing as well.
While you won’t necessarily be able to fight the charges based solely on the fact that they stem from a roadblock, there may still be many options available for constructing a defense strategy if you get arrested after passing through a sobriety checkpoint.