One of the things a DWI defense attorney hates most is when law enforcement sets up a DWI checkpoint along a roadway in order to trap drivers that may have only had a small amount to drink with dinner. These checkpoints have constantly been questioned in court since they remove a large portion of the legality of traffic stops, namely, that a traffic violation needs to be committed in order to pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. As long as these checkpoints still exist, it is important for drivers to realize that they hold certain rights, even when stopped at a checkpoint.
What should I keep in mind when stopped at a checkpoint?
The checkpoint works by law enforcement stopping traffic and giving police a chance to examine tags and licenses for suspended drivers. It also gives the officer a chance to smell a driver's breath or look into their car when an opportunity to do so would not have been present otherwise. While the best tactic to avoid being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence is to avoid drinking, bad things can happen to good people.
Some things to avoid at a DWI checkpoint include:
- Driving erratically to create suspicion
- Having bottles of alcohol in the car
- Speaking back to an officer
- Being aggressive
- Keeping a gun in plain sight
- Having children in the car
- Complaining about the rights of the driver
When a driver is stopped at a roadblock, constitutional rights still apply. Police may not search a car without probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence or unless they have a warrant. The driver does not need to give permission for a search. Do not answer any questions besides identifying information posed by law enforcement. Any driver worried about a checkpoint can check in advance to see where one will be set up and avoid traveling that path at all costs.
The information discovered as a result of a DWI checkpoint is admissible in courts as long as the police acted legally in the process. If there is some question into the actions of law enforcement, a DWI defense attorney may be able to discover a hold in the charges against the accused.