Authorities use DUI checkpoints to help reduce instances of drunk driving. For years, there has been speculation whether these checkpoints violate a person’s rights based on unlawful stop and search. There’s also a debate about if the DUI checkpoint can be used to charge someone with DUI (driving under the influence).
At the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, our Atlanta criminal lawyers understand that these checkpoints can be intimidating. We are here to help anyone arrested for DUI at a checkpoint or who has questions about the legality of the search they were exposed to.
Learn more about DUI checkpoints and your rights in Atlanta and the state of Georgia here.
Requirements Must be Met at DUI Checkpoints
According to the Georgia Supreme Court, DUI checkpoints in the state are legal if they meet set standards. The standards that must be met include:
- A police supervisor must approve the place and time of the DUI checkpoint.
- The purpose of the checkpoint must be specific, such as to check for driver impairment, check licenses, etc.
- The checkpoint is required to be marked and present minimal delays for drivers.
- The roadblock must be part of an ongoing effort to reduce drunk driving cases.
- There should be a warning that a roadblock is ahead.
- Police presence must be noticeable when approaching the roadblock.
Authorities at DUI Checkpoints Are Looking for Specific Signs
As your vehicle moves through a DUI checkpoint, you will be required to stop. However, only some drivers will make the officer suspect they are drinking and driving. If the officer suspects this, they will request you pull over for further investigation.
Some of the things the officer will look for to justify asking you to pull over include:
- Poor coordination
- Smell of alcohol
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Alcohol containers in your vehicle
Is It Possible to Avoid Going Through a DUI Checkpoint?
The answer to this is – it depends. This is allowed if you can make a legal U-turn or go down a side street to avoid the DUI checkpoint. However, make sure your actions don’t raise suspicion.
In situations where your driving is erratic or if an officer thinks you are driving impaired, they may follow you and pull you over.
Tips to Refuse a DUI Checkpoint Without Self-Incrimination
If a police car follows you after you make a legal maneuver to avoid a DUI checkpoint, the best thing you can do is stay quiet. Provide the police with your name and address, but never admit to evading the checkpoint. Sometimes, DUI checkpoints look like accident scenes, and people look for an alternate way to their destination to avoid a delay.
You should only get out of your vehicle if the police request that you do this. This is the initial step in proving “seizure” and the police officer’s ability to have dominion over you. If this happens, it implicates the Georgia Constitution, Paragraph XIII, and the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. If possible, have your phone’s camera recording to capture your conversation and the tone of voice the officer uses. Doing so will help your DUI lawyer win a suppression motion if you face criminal charges.
Do not attempt a field sobriety test or agree to let the officer “check your eyes.” You should not participate in any field tests or other evaluations. This includes the following something with your eyes or taking a portable breathalyzer test.
You have the right to say no. It’s recommended that you are polite but firm. Most officers don’t follow the guidelines for standardized field sobriety testing. As a result, you should not expose yourself to a flawed process.
What Should You Do if You Are Arrested for a Georgia DUI?
If the police suspect you are impaired, they will likely arrest you. Remember to remain quiet and say as little as possible through the arrest and booking process. When you say anything, the police may claim your speech was slurred, thick-tongued, or use some other subjective description to imply intoxication.
In the state of Georgia, DUI laws don’t allow you to contact a DUI attorney. It’s important to understand that if you submit to a breath test, you also have the right to have an independent blood test conducted by your chosen provider or hospital. However, you must cover the cost of this test.
If you refuse the post-arrest blood-alcohol content (BAC) test, you may face a license suspension for a year or revoke your privilege to drive in the state for the year. Additionally, since 2006, an officer has the right to seek a forcible blood draw warrant to conduct a blood test, even if you have refused.
Defending a DUI Arrest Made at a DUI Checkpoint
If you are arrested for DUI at a DUI checkpoint, be sure to contact an attorney for assistance when you are released or to have a family member do this for you.
Once you have legal representation, your lawyer can get the instructions the police must have on them when establishing a DUI checkpoint. They will work to prove that the checkpoint failed to meet the established rules and that the charges against you should be dropped.
Some of the other ways you may be able to challenge a DUI arrest that occurs at a DUI checkpoint include:
- Determine if the authorities provided adequate notice of the presence of the DUI checkpoint to the public
- Prove the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to detain you
- When at the checkpoint being detained, take note if the motorists being detained were all of a specific age, race, or gender
- Proof that the location of the checkpoint was unsafe for drivers or if there was no way for them to avoid the checkpoint
DUI defense in Georgia can be challenging. Your first step is to hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
Don’t Wait to Contact Our Atlanta Criminal Lawyer for Assistance with Your DUI Charge
Any criminal charge can be stressful. You may wonder where to turn or what you can do to protect your rights and reduce the potential of a significant penalty.
Depending on the circumstances and your record, DUI convictions may result in jail time, significant fines, and other penalties. Also, a DUI conviction may prevent you from getting certain jobs.
At the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines, our Atlanta criminal lawyers can provide you with the quality defense services you need. The first step is to schedule a consultation with our legal team. We will review the case and work to gather evidence and help you avoid the serious penalties that come with a Georgia DUI conviction.