Although the police must have probable cause to stop a driver, the Supreme Court has maintained that the dangers of drunk driving outweigh the intrusion of privacy. In Mississippi, random DUI checkpoints are allowed. Here’s what you need to know about DUI checkpoints and your rights.
What Are DUI Checkpoints?
DUI checkpoints — also called roadblocks, mobile checkpoints, or sobriety checkpoints — are temporary locations set up for police officers to stop and question drivers. In the event that law enforcement officers believe that a driver may be intoxicated, they are legally allowed to detain the individual and perform sobriety testing, including breathalyzer and field sobriety testing.
Police Have to Follow Certain Laws When Conducting Random DUI Interviews
Although the police have the ability to stop and interview drivers at a DUI checkpoint, there are certain regulations they must follow. A checkpoint must be publicized before it is set up, be properly lit and include warning signs or signals that designate the official nature of the stop. Officers must clearly identify themselves during a stop, and a neutral formula to stop vehicles must be decided ahead of time and applied throughout the duration of the checkpoint. This means that officers cannot stop cars because a driver looks questionable or for any other reason than the predetermined formula.
Your Constitutional Rights Still Apply
Even at a DUI checkpoint, your constitutional rights still apply. The officer may not hold you longer than necessary and your vehicle may not be searched unless the officer has clear probable cause, such as seeing alcohol containers or drug paraphernalia in your car. An officer can ask to search of your vehicle, but you have the right to decline and they may not force a search without probable cause. You do not have to answer questions other than providing your identifying information, and you do not have to admit to breaking any laws. You have the right to speak with an attorney immediately after your arrest, and you have the right to remain silent.
If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, it’s important that you secure legal representation as soon as possible. Contact experienced DUI lawyer J. Brian Kelley today for more information or to discuss your case in detail by calling (208) 735-0030.