Law enforcement occasionally set up sobriety checkpoints from time to time in order to stop and discourage people from driving under the influence (DUI). Getting through DUI checkpoints can be a relatively simple procedure that would require you to come to a complete stop, show some identification, and answer any questions a police officer may ask. If there are no issues, then you can continue driving along without any problems.
However, sometimes stops at checkpoints do not go over that smoothly. When that happens, the matter of where your rights begin and end becomes a bit more complicated. While it may be the case that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional, that does not necessarily mean they function the same way they would if an officer pulled you over for probable cause. Often these types of cases are challenged in court due to the subjective nature of what is and is not permitted at DUI checkpoints. If you have recently been charged at a sobriety checkpoint, do not hesitate to get in touch with a Rockland County criminal defense attorney from the Law Office of Carl Spector to learn more about your case.
How do my rights work at a sobriety checkpoint?
It is crucial to understand that because sobriety checkpoints are not stopping you based on probable cause, that does not necessarily mean you have to go through one. This does not mean you can just drive through it if an officer tells you to stop, or that you can make a sudden turn right when you are about to approach it. However, if you see one far enough in advance, there is nothing stopping you from turning away from it, as long as you don’t commit any traffic violations in the process. It should be noted that even under those circumstances, law enforcement may still pull you over for suspicious behavior. In that scenario, you would be obligated by law to pull over.
After you come to a complete stop at a sobriety checkpoint, a police officer may ask you questions where your answers could potentially incriminate you. Because you are not being detained, an officer has no obligation to read you your Miranda rights. Although, you do have the right to plead the fifth amendment in the case. If you do so, it may result in an officer asking you to take a breathalyzer or perform some field sobriety tests. While you do not have to participate in them, that can result in you being arrested where you would be subject to a chemical test. If you find yourself in that situation, make sure to get in contact with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.