DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks, are used by law enforcement to catch people who are drinking while driving and keep the roads safe. During a sobriety checkpoint, motorists are briefly detained and interviewed after which suspicious drivers are asked to perform sobriety tests.
In Virginia, these roadblocks are legal. However, there are specific rules that the police must follow when conducting DUI checkpoints. For example, the location of the checkpoint needs to be announced to the general public—either online or in the local newspaper—before a state roadblock can be established.
As drivers pass through a checkpoint, officers are prohibited from stopping every single vehicle. Rather, vehicles must be stopped according to a mathematical formula (i.e. stopping every sixth or eighth car that passes through).
Police are not allowed to ask you to step out of the vehicle unless they suspect impairment. Signs of impairment include the smell of alcohol emanating from your breath or car, glassy eyes, or slurred speech. Law enforcement needs to have probable cause for a traffic stop.
If you ever encounter a DUI checkpoint in Virginia, remember the following tips:
- Do not attempt to avoid the sobriety checkpoint – If you violate a traffic law (i.e. make an illegal U-turn or cross double yellow lines) in order to avoid a DUI checkpoint, police are permitted to stop you. Even if you legally turn off a side road, police officers might be staking out the area to pull over those attempting to avoid the roadblock.
- Show the police your driver’s license, registration, and proof of auto insurance – If you are required to stop, be polite and only show the police officer the necessary documentation.
- Say little or nothing – Avoid volunteering any additional information to the police officer. Keep in mind, any statements you make could be used against you if you are brought up on DUI charges.
If you were unfortunately caught in one of these checkpoints, do not lose hope. It is possible to either get your entire case dismissed or your charges reduced with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A DUI lawyer will fight to help you avoid these serious penalties.
Contact The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller and speak with our attorney today.