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DUI Checkpoints Are Not A Free-For-All For Police

Thanksgiving is the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season. It's also the unofficial kick-off of increased DUI patrol.

One of the tools Maryland police use to arrest drivers are DUI checkpoints. From Thanksgiving to the New Year you can - and should - expect increased patrols and a surge in DUI checkpoints.

What Is A DUI Checkpoint?

DUI checkpoints are roadblocks set up by police departments on roads and highways meant to catch drunk drivers. Drivers passing through will be randomly stopped and questioned by police. If, after a brief interaction, police believe a driver is intoxicated, they can issue field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer.

Police choose highly trafficked freeways and roads near popular bars and restaurants on purpose. They know people are out celebrating the holidays, they know alcohol is being consumed and they know some people will choose to get behind the wheel when they shouldn't. These checkpoints are created with one goal: to make DUI arrests.

What Are My Rights?

Being stopped at a DUI checkpoint does not mean your rights go out the window. If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you still have all of your constitutional rights:

  • You have the right to be free from unconstitutional searches and seizures. If police don't have probable cause to search you or give you a breath test, you don't have to comply.
  • You have the right to remain silent. You don't have to answer questions. If police begin questioning you, tell them you don't want to answer without a lawyer present.
  • You have the right to turn around. You can choose not to drive through the checkpoint - making a u-turn is not probable cause to pull you over.

Strict guidelines govern DUI checkpoints. If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint and a police officer violated your rights, contact an experienced attorney immediately. You may be able to get your DUI charge dismissed.

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