Holidays are always a festive and jolly season, and you can’t help but put the “merry” in Christmas with a few beers. Ideally, you shouldn’t really be driving while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, but should you find yourself being stopped over in a DUI checkpoint, you can avoid self-incrimination and assert your rights should you find these kind of stops intrusive. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, you may talk to a trusted Tacoma DUI attorney if you felt that your rights were violated during the search.
Ryan Beckler from The Law TV outlines some of the things you have to keep in mind when you’re pulled over in a checkpoint:
[P]olice cannot search your car at a checkpoint unless they feel they have probable cause (you look visibly intoxicated/your breath reeks of alcohol) or you grant them permission.
Under your 5th Amendment rights, you don’t have to answer any questions if you don’t want to. So if an officer asks how many drinks you’ve had, you can simply choose to reply, “I don’t wish to answer that question.” If the officer believes you have indeed been drinking, he or she may ask you to take a breathalyzer test.
The breathalyzer is one of the most common contraptions you’ll see at a DUI checkpoint, and yes, you have every right to refuse it. However, do understand that you can still get arrested if police feel they have a “probable cause.” If you refuse the breathalyzer, chances are police will ask you to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety exercises.
DUI or sobriety checkpoints have been the subject of scrutiny among dissenters in many states, as they feel that they are too intrusive, even suggesting that it violates the people’s basic constitutional rights, particularly the Fourth Amendment. This amendment states that it is one of the people’s rights to secure their properties and personal belongings, including their cars, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Keep in mind, however, that police will only search your vehicle if they can provide probable cause in doing so, or you can make things easier by complying with them.
Should you refuse the breathalyzer or field sobriety exercises, the officer will either let you go or arrest you, especially if they have a probable cause. Charging you with DUI, however, would be difficult because they don’t have the substantial evidence, such as the results of the breathalyzer, to convict you. A respected Tacoma DUI lawyer, such as the Law Offices of Kim E Hunter, PLLC, can help you through your case, especially if you have asserted your rights against self-incrimination properly, and can present the legal options available to you before you enter a plea bargain.
(Source: DUI Checkpoints – Know Your Rights, The Law TV)