DUI Checkpoints: Know Your Rights

If you are a driver in DC, there are certain things you should know regarding DUI checkpoints in the city. Police officers are very vigilant about DUIs and they often conduct set up checkpoints to check for people potentially driving under the influence. It is important to know your rights during these checkpoints. Knowing your rights means understanding what you are and are not obligated to do while interacting with police at a checkpoint.

Law Enforcement Requirements

When police are conducting a DUI checkpoint, they are required to notify the community either by social media or local news of the location of the checkpoint and the specific duration of the checkpoint. That is the way they are able to get around the typical constitutional requirements of traffic stops.

A person who goes through a DUI checkpoint does not have the right to challenge the investigation based on a lack of reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. Because the police are required to notify the community of the location and duration of DUI checkpoint and make the DUI checkpoint feasible and well-known, no person ever has an obligation to pass through the DUI checkpoint. A driver always has the ability to take a different route.

Turn Around and Drive the Other Way

At a certain point, you can no longer turn around and go the other way. The police officers will mark off the location of the DUI checkpoint and once you reach that location, you have go through.

The police are required to notify the community of the location of checkpoints. A person always has the ability to look up the location of checkpoints for the night. And if they do not want to go through a checkpoint, then simply take a different route. At a certain point when you get to the checkpoint, you will not have the ability to turn around.

Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint

When you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you do not have the right to refuse to put your window down. When an officer asks you at a checkpoint to put your window down, you have to comply with that request.

However, you do have the right to remain silent, to not answer any questions, and to simply let the officer know that you are declining to answer any questions without the presence of a lawyer.

Nonetheless, the officers at that point still do have the ability to arrest you. You do not have the right to refuse to get out of your car, but once you do get out of your car, you do have the right to refuse to submit to any field sobriety testing. You have the right to refuse to submit to any testing of your blood, urine, or breath.

Still, you should be aware that if you do refuse to submit to urine, blood, or breath testing, there can be consequences to that decision such as an increased revocation period of your driver’s license and the possible unavailability of certain negotiated options in a DUI criminal charge.

However, you cannot be penalized for refusing to answer an officer’s questions as that is within your constitutional rights.

Right to Call a Lawyer at a DUI Checkpoint

You do not necessarily have the right to call a lawyer during a stop. However, if you assert your right to remain silent without the presence of a lawyer then the police officers must immediately cease all questioning of you and can no longer ask you anything that could result in incriminating yourself.

So, even though officers may not permit you to call a lawyer, it is nonetheless important to assert that right so that you do not further incriminate yourself by answering any of the officer’s questions.