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DUI Checkpoints are Common but Threaten Few Drivers

  • Depending on where you live, but especially in metro areas with large populations, checkpoints for driving under the influence – also known as DUI or sobriety checkpoints – are fairly common. In fact, DUI checkpoints are the most common type of police roadblocks most people will encounter. These checkpoints serve mainly as an opportunity for police to take a look at motorists to see if they appear to be intoxicated.

    Most drivers who encounter a DUI checkpoint are required to do little more than slow down or stop briefly so that the police can get a look at them and their car before moving on. During that pause, police officers attempt to evaluate a driver’s condition. They also likely will enter the car’s license plate into the system to check for warrants or other alerts. Unless there is visible evidence that there is a reason to detain the driver, and if the license plate check reveals nothing, then that is all the police are allowed to do. Unless the police see something that gives them probable cause to probe further, DUI checkpoints for most drivers amount to nothing more than a temporary delay.

    You Have Rights When You Are Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint

    Regardless of whether you are intimidated by a police checkpoint or you are completely indifferent, your constitutional rights still apply at a DUI checkpoint. This means that the police can stop you, but only long enough to look into your car. They may not search your vehicle unless during the brief stop they see something that gives them probable cause to conduct a search. This means they must see something that gives them a reason to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol or some other substance, they see something potentially illegal, or you agree to a search. If you aren’t visibly under the influence, do not have drugs, drug paraphernalia, or other illegal items in plain sight, and do not consent to a search, your stop will last only long enough to check and see that your driver’s license is valid. Usually, such stops last less than a minute. At such a checkpoint, you are not required to:

    • Answer questions, such as about where you have been or where you are going;
    • Admit to illegal activity, such as drinking before driving; or
    • Agree to a search.

    DUI checkpoints, run properly, generally are allowed by courts. However, the police may not ask for your license and registration unless the stop is a result of a driving violation. If the stop raises a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, though, the police may ask for license and registration. If they have probable cause to believe there is a violation of the law, they can search you and your vehicle with or without your permission.

    If You Have Been Charged After a Stop at a DUI Checkpoint in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, Contact the Criminal Law Attorneys of Mitnick and Associates

    If you have been arrested following a stop at a DUI checkpoint in the Atlanta Metro area, including Alpharetta, Roswell, Cumming, Johns Creek, and Milton, you should consult a criminal defense attorney to explore your options. The stop might have been incorrectly conducted or otherwise have violated your rights in some way. The attorneys at Mitnick and Associates can help. You can reach us at (770) 408-7000 or through our online contact form.