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DUI checkpoints in Maryland: know your rights

Yesterday, things got a bit crazy for St. Patrick’s Day in Annapolis. In the midst of a DUI checkpoint, a motorist reportedly fled from police and struck several cars before his own vehicle crashed and caught fire. According to police, the man had been driving without a license and was under the influence of a controlled substance. He is now charged with DWI and other offenses in connection with the incident.

One of the issues this story raises, and which our readers should be aware of, is the legality of DUI checkpoints in Maryland. Obviously, sobriety checkpoints are legal or police officers would not be allowed to conduct them. That being said, sobriety checkpoints must meet certain requirements in order to be considered legal. Different states have different requirements. 

Further, even when DUI checkpoints are upheld by law and are properly conducted, they do not destroy the rights of motorists subjected to them. All the ordinary rules concerning searches and arrests still apply. Police must still have a warrant to search a vehicle, unless some exception applies, and police officers must still have probable cause to make any arrest. Motorists still have the right to refuse to answer any questions posed by officers or to submit to roadside breath testing and sobriety testing.

It is important that readers be aware of their rights, because it is easy to become intimidated by uniforms and roadblocks and to begin waiving one’s rights. In our next post, we’ll speak a bit more about this issue, particularly what an experienced defense attorney can do to help an individual arrested at a DUI checkpoint to build a strong defense.

Sources:

Baltimore Sun, “Man arrested after 15-minute chase from DUI checkpoint in Annapolis,” Quinn Kelley & Colin Campbell, March 17, 2015.

Governors Highway Safety Association, “Maryland: March 2015,” Accessed March 18, 2015. 

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