Most of us have probably seen a DUI checkpoint or watched as a terrified driver went through one in the movies. Sobriety checkpoints are commonly set during popular holidays, early morning, and nighttime hours. Chances are you may be stopped as part of a routine DUI checkpoint at some point in your life, so it is important to be prepared and know your legal rights. In the state of Georgia, sobriety checks are legal absent a warrant so long as they are based on suspicion concerning an individual driver and they are random. Our Gwinnett County, Georgia DUI lawyers explore what you can expect if stopped at a DUI checkpoint and how you can protect your legal rights during the stop.
Anticipating a Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints must be both temporary and random to be considered constitutional. While there is no sure way to know when and where a DUI checkpoint will be set up, at times advance notice will be posted on social media sites, through the radio, or even word of mouth. Even if you haven’t received word of a checkpoint, you would be wise to anticipate the possibility of one on any holiday that potentially involves drinking, like the Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo, and Thanksgiving, or following any special local event. It is always best to avoid driving after you have consumed any alcohol as the chance exists of a checkpoint or stop by an officer.
Approaching the Checkpoint
As you approach a checkpoint, you will likely see flashing lights and roadblocks. When entering the checkpoint, it is crucial that you drive as normal and avoid raising any red flags. Attempting to turn off last minute could be viewed with suspicion. The goal of the officers during the checkpoint is to speak to you and look for any signs of intoxication. Officers will also check for any warrants or license issues. Your goal is to comply with the officer’s requests, while not giving them any ammunition to suspect you of being intoxicated.
Your Rights During a Checkpoint
You will want to keep your cool during the checkpoint and remember that your constitutional rights remain in full effect. It is best if you cooperate with the officers, but do not volunteer information that could harm you. You must turn over your license and registration, but you have the right to remain silent. The best course of action is typically to be polite, offer your name, while never mentioning drinking or coming from anywhere that drinking may have occurred. You will only be asked to undergo a breathalyzer or field sobriety testing if officers develop probable cause of your intoxication during the stop. If you are detained, contact a DUI defense lawyer right away to protect your legal rights.