In all 50 states, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. You don't even have to get a speeding ticket or commit another traffic infraction to be charged with driving while intoxicated; if you are stopped at a DWI checkpoint, the police officer can ask you to participate in field sobriety testing or take a breath alcohol test. Although DWI checkpoints are legal in most states, police officers must follow certain rules when conducting this type of traffic stop.
1. A police officer cannot pull you over for avoiding a DWI checkpoint.
If you are running late for work or need to arrive somewhere at a specific time, stopping at a DWI checkpoint can wreak havoc with your schedule. What many drivers don't know is that it is perfectly legal to make a U-turn or turn down a side street to avoid the checkpoint, as long as you don't commit any traffic violations while making the turn. A law enforcement officer cannot pursue you simply for avoiding the checkpoint, but you can be pulled over for making an illegal U-turn or driving erratically.
2. Officers must stop motorists in a specific sequence.
Police officers are not allowed to stop vehicles based on their personal whims. Instead, they must use a mathematical sequence to determine which vehicles to stop at a DWI checkpoint. For example, an officer might stop every fifth vehicle traveling through an intersection. Using a specific sequence helps motorists avoid being pulled over based on race, gender, or the color of the cars they drive.
3. You do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle.
If a police officer wants to search your vehicle after you are stopped at a DWI checkpoint, you do not have to give your consent. Without consent, the officer cannot conduct a vehicle search unless you are placed under arrest or he suspects the vehicle contains items used to commit a crime. This includes drug paraphernalia, illegal drugs, and weapons. The officer can also inspect your vehicle if he believes it contains items obtained during the commission of a crime.
4. Police officers are entitled to conduct a visual inspection of your vehicle's passenger compartment.
Just because a police officer doesn't have the right to search your entire vehicle doesn't mean he can't conduct a visual inspection. Officers are allowed to look through the windows of your car or truck to see if you have drug paraphernalia, open containers of alcohol, or other illegal items. If you are arrested based on a visual inspection of your vehicle, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney right away.
5. DWI checkpoints have been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Some people believe DWI checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure. However, the Supreme Court decided that DWI checkpoints are necessary for protecting the public from the threat posed by drunk drivers, leaving states responsible for deciding if DWI checkpoints are allowed by law. As of March 2015, 11 states prohibit police officers from using DWI checkpoints to stop motorists. These states include Michigan, Oregon, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Texas.
6. You should cooperate with law enforcement officers at any DWI checkpoint.
If DWI checkpoints are legal in your state, then it is to your benefit to cooperate with the officers conducting a stop. Refusing to roll down your window or provide requested information tends to raise suspicion that you are hiding something.
Law enforcement agencies tout DWI checkpoints as a way to prevent drunk-driving accidents, but these checkpoints are intrusive and time-consuming for motorists. If you are stopped at a checkpoint and arrested for driving while intoxicated, contact a DWI attorney immediately. If the officers did not conduct the stop according to the rules of your state, it might be possible to have the charges dismissed.Share
12 March 2015
It can be hard to know what to do to protect yourself legally in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. You’re liable to be disoriented or in shock, you may be injured, and you’re surely worried about your passenger or the other driver. At least, that’s how I felt. The thing is, the things you say and do in the immediate aftermath of an accident may affect a legal case later. Depending on who’s at fault and what the laws are in your state, you may want to sue the other driver for damages, or you may find yourself being sued. My blog is designed to give you tips for a car accident lawsuit, no matter which side you find yourself on.