Have you ever been pulled over and accused of a DUI, also referred to as OVI? Going through a sobriety checkpoint can be nerve-wracking under the best of circumstances. Everyone feels a little bit of tension and many people are unaware that they have certain legal rights in this situation. Understanding your rights and options in advance will help keep you calm during these checkpoints.
Although most DUI arrest are made when police pull someone over for speeding or weaving or some other probably cause, DUI checkpoints are also used to catch those drinking and driving. These checkpoints are randomly set and not targeted. This gives you certain rights. For instance, the police cannot search your car without probable cause or your permission. Do not feel threatened to consent to a search of your car just because they ask. Simply politely refuse, saying: On advice of my attorney, I do not consent for you to search my car.
Likewise, you can exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions that an officer asks. You do not have to submit to any field sobriety test such as touching your nose, walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet, etc. Politely refuse to take these tests. If they ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, you do not have to take it. Politely refuse.
Refusing to submit to these tests or answer questions make get you arrested if the police feel there is probable cause. However, you will likely be released immediately after being processed. Rarely are DUI suspects held overnight. The trade-off is that you have given the police zero evidence with which to convict you of the charge later in court.
The police officer will usually also threaten you with a license suspension, stating that if you refuse to answer his questions or take his tests that your license will automatically be suspended. While this is true, the automatic license suspension (ALS) is always lifted once the court case is over.
The bottom line is that you have rights, and you should not allow police officers to force or scare you into do doing something which will only help them convict you later in court. The less evidence they have the better your chances of beating the case or negotiating a better plea bargain. If you have any questions about your rights and know a good DUI attorney, call him immediately.