What You Need to Know About Sobriety Checkpoints and DUI Traffic Laws

In Maryland, law enforcement officials may conduct sobriety checkpoints to stop drunk drivers at the site.

Some drivers may wonder if sobriety checkpoints violate their rights under the United States Constitution.

However, the Supreme Court has ruled that US federal law shows that a person’s federal constitutional rights are not violated, as long as the driver consents to the traffic stop.

Therefore, the police of Maryland have statutory authority to use checkpoints to make DUI arrests or use probable cause to ensure legal requirements are met.

Also, the state constitution in Maryland enforces the state authority of law enforcement officers and the constitutional rights of motorists, supporting the use of checkpoints to enhance public safety while preventing unreasonable vehicle searches.

Checkpoints and DUI Traffic Laws

The US Supreme Court ruled that, when properly conducted, a checkpoint is legal – provided the rules for these car stop-points are followed.

If you run into difficulties that violate both Supreme Court rules and case law findings, you should contact a Maryland DUI attorney right away.

They can review the DUI case law and advise you of your rights if you’re arrested for impaired driving.

Location and Site Selection

Police carefully select checkpoint locations based on data that shows high rates of impaired driving arrests or alcohol-related area car crashes.

Advanced Publicity

Police departments typically issue press releases to local media and post notices on social media pages or websites 48 hours prior to setting up a checkpoint.

The Posting of Warning Signs

Posting of Warning Signs

In addition to media alerts, police must properly mark the site with warning signs at each entrance point of the road that’s monitored.

The signs should be visible at least 200 to 300 feet away and indicate that a police sobriety checkpoint is ahead.

This also permits motorists to negotiate a safe U-turn if they don’t want to proceed through the line.

Neutral Guidelines on Stopping Vehicles

Officers at the checkpoint are required to stop each driver for impaired driving.

Neutral guidelines in Maryland prevent a law officer from arbitrarily choosing the drivers that pass through the site.

Officers must stop every driver when stopping vehicles at sobriety roadblocks.

What Happens if You’re Stopped?

If an officer determines, based on reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS), that a driver may be impaired, they will ask the driver to pull over for an investigatory stop.

RAS decisions may be based on a motorist’s slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the scent of alcohol on their breath.

SFSTs and PBTs

This may lead to breathing into a plastic bag or taking a preliminary breathalyzer test (PBT) after taking a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST).

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Readings

In Maryland, your blood alcohol content reading must read:

  • 1. At least 0.07% for a DWI (driving while impaired)
  • 2. At least 0.08% for a DUI (driving under the influence)

How Long Should a Stop Take If You’re Not Impaired?

How Long Should a Stop Take If You're Not Impaired

Sobriety checkpoint stops should take no longer than 30 seconds if you’re sober.

You’ll need to have your driver’s license and registration handy.

Undue lengthy stops violate your Fourth Amendment rights for unreasonable search and seizure.

Both case law and constitutional law can be used to support your rights in this respect.

Probable Cause for Arrest

To make a DUI arrest at checkpoints stop in Maryland, an officer must have developed probable cause – a reasonable belief that the driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle is impaired.

Probable cause factors can include:

  • 1. Failed field sobriety test and breath test results
  • 2. Admission to drinking quantities that result in illegal BAC levels

Attorney Consultation for a DUI Checkpoint Arrest

Drivers who are charged with DUI after some checkpoints stop in Maryland are entitled to promptly confer with an attorney.

This is important, as refusing post-arrest chemical testing can lead to increased criminal penalties.

For example, it may result in the suspension of your driver’s license for 270 days.

Rights of Drivers at DUI Checkpoint Locations

Rights of Drivers at DUI Checkpoint Locations

You are allowed to remain silent and refuse a search of your vehicle at DUI checkpoints, but refusing a preliminary breath test (PBT) is not advised.

Doing so has legal consequences under DUI laws.

Why and When Checkpoints Are Illegal

Setting up a DUI checkpoint is considered unconstitutional under some state DUI laws.

In some states, such as Michigan, legislators do not believe DUI checkpoints are legal as they infringe upon citizen rights with respect to privacy – leading to unreasonable searches.

Some states, such as Iowa and Wisconsin, question the legality of DUI roadblocks.

They too look at these stops as a search without probable cause.

So DUI checkpoints are legal or illegal, depending on the laws of a state.

Many states however support the use of checkpoints.

Why You Need an Attorney’s Help

Why Need an Attorney's Help

 

If the police charged you for drunk driving or you feel your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated at a DUI checkpoint, contact an experienced DUI lawyer about your concerns.

If you don’t believe there was enough of a reasonable suspicion to merit an arrest by the police, you should consult with a lawyer about the legality of your charge.

Whether you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint or pulled over after a traffic stop by the police, you need legal representation in court.

An attorney researches and reviews both state legislation and case law to support your rights and advocate on your behalf.

DUI Checkpoint Planning

Sobriety checkpoints should be established on roadways that can support a manageable traffic flow.

What helps make checkpoints legal is how they’re ultimately planned.

DUI checkpoints should also offer adequate parking for state law enforcement officer vehicles.

The site should provide enough space for the autos of motorists who are under arrest or have been detained during and after field sobriety tests.

Types of equipment used at DUI checkpoints should include:

  • Traffic control devices for DUI checkpoints, such as notification signs, flares, and cones
  • Flashlights equipped with traffic wands to maintain DUI checkpoint traffic flow
  • DUI checkpoint PBT instruments
  • High-visibility and reflective vests and jackets for police officers at DUI checkpoints
  • Sobriety DUI checkpoint trailer
  • Extra lighting at the entrance of the DUI checkpoint

Checkpoints are legal in Maryland, especially when they make it convenient to detect impaired driving.

Contact the Law Offices of Alex Poberesky

Arrests for DUI at DUI checkpoints or after a traffic violation or crime in Maryland need to be addressed right away.

Contact the Law Offices of Alex Poberesky about your DUI charges today.