What are my rights at a field sobriety checkpoint?

MAN DRIVING CAR

There is a strong likelihood that you will encounter a field sobriety checkpoint in most states. The purpose of these checkpoints is to make it easier for law enforcement to catch anyone who may be driving under the influence (DUI). Drunk drivers are a danger to both themselves as well as everyone else on the road. While you may think of it as an inconvenience, it is important for police officers to make sure other drivers are not susceptible to potentially dangerous conditions on the road.

However, it is also important to understand what your rights are at a field sobriety checkpoint. Depending on the situation, officers may charge you with a myriad of offenses based on certain behavior you may have demonstrated. If you are facing legal repercussions after being stopped at a field sobriety checkpoint, please reach out to the Middlesex County criminal defense attorneys from The Law Office of Michael A. Policastro to learn more about your case.

What should I know if I am stopped at a field sobriety checkpoint?

If you see a field sobriety checkpoint coming, you may wonder if it is legal for you to avoid it. In that scenario, it depends on the circumstances. For example, if you see a DUI checkpoint coming a few blocks away, as long as you do not break any traffic laws, there is nothing illegal about turning into another street to avoid it. However, the closer you are to the checkpoint when you make a turn, the more suspicious it will seem to law enforcement. If you were to make a sudden U-turn or veer away into another street right as you are about to approach the checkpoint, that may give a police officer probable cause to pull you over. Even if you have not broken any laws, the last thing you want to do is arouse suspicion.

Once you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you are expected to roll down your window and answer any questions the officer may have for you. Although, the legality of this is very debatable since you are not being pulled over for reasonable cause of illegal activity. Technically that means you are not legally required to comply, but this is certainly not advised. Failure to comply at a field sobriety checkpoint could potentially escalate the situation, as well as give law enforcement reasonable cause to search your vehicle.

It should also be noted that police officers are not allowed to force you to take a breathalyzer or subject you to field sobriety tests. However, you must take a potential chemical test if you have been arrested for a DUI. Because of the questionable legality of what you and an officer are allowed to do when it comes to field sobriety checkpoints, strong legal representation is highly advised if you end up getting charged.

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