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Understanding Your Options At a DUI Checkpoint

Posted on in DUI Defense

Understanding Your Options At a DUI CheckpointAccording to the Illinois Secretary of State’s Department, upwards of 27,000 people were arrested statewide on DUI charges throughout 2017. The incredible number of arrests is largely related to increased efforts by law enforcement to apprehend inebriated drivers. One of the most notable steps the state has taken is to implement a high number of DUI checkpoints. When one approaches a DUI checkpoint, it is entirely common to feel like they have no options but to pull up to the checkpoint and adhere to the officer’s wishes. In reality, there are a number of choices you can make to avoid being charged with driving under the influence. If a drinking and driving charge does ultimately occur, seek out quality legal representation immediately. 

Recognizing Your Rights at a Checkpoint

DUI checkpoints have always been highly controversial. In any other traffic stop situation, a police officer has to have reasonable suspicion for stopping a vehicle. In other words, a driver must be violating the law in some capacity to warrant a traffic stop. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that DUI checkpoints do not require probable cause because the breach in privacy is ultimately geared towards increasing driver safety. Because of this, many people are unaware that they have options as they approach a DUI checkpoint:

  1. You Can Turn Around: When people see a DUI checkpoint, they assume that they will be stuck going through the checkpoint. If for whatever reason you do not want to take part in the checkpoint, you are legally allowed to turn around and avoid the checkpoint altogether. As long as the turn is executed in an entirely legal fashion, the police would have no reasonable suspicion for pulling you over. If they do apprehend you after your execution of a legal turn around, your lawyer could argue that you were unlawfully seized. 
  2. You Can Refuse Testing: At a DUI checkpoint, it is common for law enforcement officials to intimidate drivers into adhering to their wishes. If an officer asks that you take part in chemical or field sobriety testing, it is important to understand that you can refuse to participate in the tests. An officer may tell you that refusing a DUI test is illegal, but they would be either incorrect or strategically lying. Refusing to take part in chemical testing is an administrative offense, not a criminal offense. This means that the person refusing the test may face some consequences, such as temporary loss of driving privileges. This is different from having a blemish placed on their permanent record or being charged with a crime. 
  3. You Can Refuse to Answer Questions: When an officer begins to ask you questions, it can be difficult to avoid answering them. Most of us were taught to obey law enforcement and cooperate. In reality, answering questions regarding your drinking can be the first step towards giving them the right to ask for testing and ultimately charge you with a DUI. If an officer asks if you have been drinking, you are better off telling the officer “I would rather not say” than admitting to drinking or lying about it. Even if you have only consumed two drinks throughout the night, those drinks could add up to more than the legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol content. You could hurt your credibility if you are proven to have lied to the officer about drinking. While it is always important to be respectful, it is equally important to understand your rights. 

Contact an Oak Brook DUI Defense Lawyer  

After a DUI charge, it is important to act quickly. At McMahon Law Offices, we will examine the proceedings behind the traffic stop to see if the officer acted negligently in any manner. In many cases, officers commit errors at DUI checkpoints that could warrant a case being thrown out in court. A DUI conviction can impact your ability to drive, secure employment, and pay your bills. Fortunately, we are dedicated to doing whatever we can to help you avoid a conviction. To schedule a complimentary consultation with a skilled DuPage County criminal defense attorney, call us today at 630-953-4400. 



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