What Not to Do at a DUI Checkpoint

In many states, the police set up DUI checkpoints designed to check drivers for signs of intoxication. The legality of these checkpoints has been a point of hot debate for several years. For most people, the concern seems to be whether DUI checkpoints violate the 4th amendment right to protection against unreasonable search or seizure.

In 1990, a crucial decision regarding the legality of DUI checkpoints was made by the Supreme Court in the case of Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz. The court ruled that the Fourth Amendment did not apply to DUI checkpoints because the Government's interest in minimizing the danger drunk drivers pose to other motorists outweighed the negligible impact these checkpoints have on law-abiding citizens.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Michigan?

Just because sobriety stops are legal federally doesn't necessarily mean that all DUI checkpoints are legal. There's a very strict set of guidelines that all DUI checkpoints must follow. These guidelines vary from state to state. Furthermore, Michigan is one of 10 states that have ruled against sobriety checkpoints and banned their use because they violate their state constitutions. These other states include:

  • Wyoming

  • Idaho

  • Wisconsin

  • Rhode Island

  • Minnesota

  • Texas

  • Oregon

  • Iowa

  • Washington

However, even though sobriety checkpoints are not used throughout the state of Michigan, law enforcement officers can still conduct vehicle stops and arrests involving suspected DUIs.

Below, we have compiled some tips to keep in mind if you are ever involved in a suspected DUI stop or pass through a sobriety checkpoint in another state.

Don't Run Through the Checkpoint

Never drive through a checkpoint unless you are instructed to do so and do not perform any illegal driving maneuvers, such as making an illegal u-turn, to avoid getting stopped. Running through a checkpoint can lead to far worse consequences than if you comply with the officers.

If you believe that you're being detained at an illegal DUI checkpoint, the best thing to do is to obey the officers at the checkpoint. If you do get detained, you can hire an Okemos Criminal Defense Attorney to fight any charges or fines in court. By doing this, the police cannot say you did not comply with their instructions, which may result in fines and/or imprisonment.

Don't Volunteer Unnecessary Information

Unless the police have reasonable suspicion that you have been driving under the influence, the only information you're legally required to give police is your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. Do not voluntarily give police any additional information, but don't be evasive or combative with the officer, as this will increase your chances of being detained. Instead, only provide information the officer requests explicitly. Remember, the police can only pull you over for a limited time, and anything you voluntarily say can and will be used against you in court.

Don't Refuse a Breath Test

Although you can technically refuse to take a sobriety test, whether in the form of a breath, blood or urine test, doing so is not in your best interest and may even carry its own penalties. All 50 states have what's called an Implied Consent law. In plain English, this means that by accepting the privilege of driving in your state, you inherently agree to certain responsibilities. Although these responsibilities vary from state to state, the most common responsibilities include:

  • Carrying a valid driver's license

  • Maintaining proof of insurance for your vehicle

  • Keeping your vehicle's license plates up to date

  • Registering your vehicle

  • Remaining in control of your vehicle at all times

Furthermore, by driving, you also give law enforcement officials certain permissions in order to make sure you're living up to those responsibilities. These permissions include:

  • Providing appropriate documentation when asked (driver's license, registration receipt, insurance documents, etc.)

  • Submitting to a blood and/or urine test when asked

  • Submitting to a breathalyzer test when asked

What to Do: Contact an Okemos Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested or charged for driving under the influence (DUI) or operating while intoxicated (OWI) then call an Okemos Criminal Defense Attorney right away. There’s an effective solution to even the most complex of charges and our attorneys at White Law PLLC can assist you in finding this solution. Let us put our DUI case experience to work for you!