How DUI Checkpoints Work
Most states, including the state of Georgia allow for DUI checkpoints. DUI checkpoints are established by law enforcement with the intention of arresting people for DUI and deterring drivers from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Under Georgia law, law enforcement has the right to perform sobriety roadside checkpoints. Sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks are temporary installations used by law enforcement to apprehend drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. These checkpoints are frequently set up either late at night, or early in the morning when the highest percentages of drunk drivers are on the road. They can also be set up in areas where there is a frequency of drunk driving accidents or where there tends to be a high congestion of drunk drivers.
The police who run these sobriety checkpoints are required to follow a specific protocol; for examples, they are supposed to make a public announcement beforehand, they are required to stop each and every car in order to prevent profiling, they must have supervisor approval before establishing the checkpoint, they must have probable cause before making the DUI arrest and, they must have a legal basis for the checkpoint (such as in an area that has proven to have a higher incidence of DUI drivers). These DUI checkpoints can’t be set up at random by some police officer who desires to check people for DUI on a hunch.
If you happen to drive into a DUI checkpoint, you are not required to answer any questions about whether or not you have been drinking. Many arrests occur because the driver admits to having a couple of drinks when the police officer asks them if they had been drinking. Nobody is required to incriminate themselves, if you are asked if you have been drinking, you have every right to politely remain silent. People often think that honesty is the best policy, but that very thinking can lead you to a DUI conviction.
When you are pulled over at one of these sobriety checkpoints, you will be asked for your driver’s license and registration and you may be questioned whether or not you have been drinking. You are required by law to provide these documents to the police officer, as well as any time that you are pulled over by law enforcement. As the police officer is looking over these documents and talking to you, they will be watching and listening for any obvious signs of impairment.
They will look for slurred speech, the smell of alcohol on your breath, any open containers in your vehicle, an open admission that you have been drinking, any drug paraphernalia or any physical signs of intoxication such as fumbling or having difficulty gathering your documents. If the police officer asks to search your car, it means that they do not have legal grounds to search your vehicle, and you may politely refuse their request.
If you are asked to step outside your vehicle and perform a field sobriety test, you may refuse. You are not legally required to perform these tests and you are not penalized for refusing them; however, if you are asked to submit to a chemical test such as a breath or blood test, you have the legal right to refuse, but refusal will result in an automatic one year license suspension. In some cases, penalties for refusal to submit to a chemical test are as serious as a DUI charge. If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint, then you should contact an attorney right away. Roadblock cases are unique to other DUI cases, since the weight of the prosecution’s case relies on whether or not the checkpoint was in compliance with local laws and regulations. Even if there is damaging evidence against you, you should consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help defend you in your roadblock case.