This Labor Day weekend, Maryland drivers shouldn't be surprised if they encounter a DUI checkpoint. These police encounters can make anyone nervous, even if they haven't had anything to drink. Unfortunately, too many people do foolish things in and near these checkpoints out of nervousness and sometimes guilt.
In some jurisdictions, law enforcement agencies announce when and where they'll be setting up checkpoints. Other times, you may learn about checkpoints on social media or from friends. If possible, you may want to avoid these areas. However, don't assume that you know where all of the checkpoints are.
If you see a checkpoint up ahead, don't drive erratically. Certainly, don't break any traffic laws. However, don't slow down or stop near the checkpoint for no reason. Anything you do that's out of the ordinary can catch an officer's attention and may result in a longer interaction with officers when you get to the checkpoint.
Don't argue with or Don't talk back or argue with the officers at the checkpoint. This isn't the time to bemoan the loss of your constitutional or civil rights. In fact, these checkpoints are legal. As with any encounter with law enforcement, remain calm and polite. Just talking back to a law enforcement officer — as actress Reese Witherspoon learned the hard way — can get you arrested.
Don't have open containers of alcohol in the vehicle. Specific open container laws vary among states and in the District of Columbia. However, if you want to avoid greater scrutiny, including being asked to perform field sobriety tests during your checkpoint stop, don't have any opened alcohol in the passenger area of your vehicle.
Of course, the best way to get through a checkpoint quickly and be on your way — and of course, to stay safe this holiday weekend — is not to drive if you've had anything to drink. A DUI arrest can have a serious impact on your life. If you're arrested for DUI with children in the vehicle, the potential penalties are even more severe.
Whatever the situation, if you've been arrested for DUI, don't try to go through the criminal justice system on your own. Experienced Maryland DUI attorneys can work to ensure that your rights are protected and to help mitigate the consequences.