Bowie and Crofton DUI Lawyers Discuss Sobriety Checkpoints
Fighting for the rights of clients charged with DUI throughout Maryland
Sobriety checkpoints are set up by law enforcement to catch drunk drivers are legal in Maryland. What many drivers don’t know is that there are legal ways to avoid a checkpoint, and there are defenses for drivers who have been stopped. At Carey Law Office, our DUI attorneys in Bowie and Crofton offer skilled representation for clients facing DUI charges. Schedule a consultation to discuss your case right away.
What are the requirements for a legal DUI checkpoint?
Even though law enforcement is supposed to have probable cause before they can initiate a traffic stop, DUI checkpoints are legal. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case where a group of Michigan residents sued the state police because they were using random sobriety checkpoints to catch alcohol-impaired drivers. In Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the Supreme Court held that Michigan State Police had a “substantial governmental interest” in stopping drunk drivers. They ruled that sobriety checkpoints were Constitutional and had a “negligible” impact on drivers’ Fourth Amendment rights from unreasonable search.
Law enforcement can setup DUI checkpoints and pull vehicles over without any kind of reasonable suspicion, or at random. Police officers must be in uniform and in marked cars with proper identification for a checkpoint stop. There are four legal requirements that must be followed in a sobriety checkpoint including:
- The checkpoint must be systematic, non-discriminatory, and non-arbitrary
- The purpose of the checkpoint must be public safety
- Drivers must be given advance notice of the checkpoint
- Drivers must be afforded the opportunity to make a legal U-turn if they choose to not go through the checkpoint
At a sobriety check point, drivers are briefly stopped, and an officer will ask a few questions. If a law enforcement officer asks you where you have been or where you are going, you may choose not to answer as it is your right to do so. If drivers seem suspicious, if the smell of alcohol is present, or if they were driving erratically, they may be pulled to the side for a sobriety test. Also, keep in mind that if you exercise your right to make a U-turn to avoid the DUI checkpoint and you make an illegal maneuver, or speed off in the opposite direction, know that an officer will likely apprehend you further down the road.
How can a DUI defense attorney help?
If you were caught in a sobriety checkpoint, which you believe did not comply with the law, we will investigate your case and determine if any of the evidence they have against you is admissible in court. Our DUI defense attorneys in Crofton and Bowie are here to protect your rights throughout the judicial process.
Schedule a consultation with an experienced DUI attorney in Bowie or Crofton
If you have been charged with a DUI, Carey Law Office is here to stand with you. With offices in Bowie and Crofton, we serve clients throughout Maryland. Please schedule your consultation, by calling 301-464-2500 or filling out this contact form now.