October 6, 2014
The holiday season is quickly approaching which means it is likely you will attend a party or two. The holiday season also means that law enforcement will be more attentive in making sure there are no drunk drivers on the road. One way law enforcement gets drunk drivers off of the road is by putting up DUI checkpoints. Although you should never drink and drive, it is important to know your rights if you ever find yourself at a DUI checkpoint.
What Are My Rights?
If you get pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, law enforcement officers will typically ask to see your license and registration and may ask you a few questions. Many times, they will ask if you have been drinking or inquire where you are headed to or where you are coming from. Although you may feel as if you legally have to answer these questions, you can refuse to give a response. If you do not wish to answer any questions, you are protected under your 5th Amendment rights. Although you have the right to refuse answering questions, an officer can ask you to take a Breathalyzer test if they believe you are impaired. If you have ever had a prior DUI conviction, refusing a blood alcohol content (BAC) test could result in an additional misdemeanor charge.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
Officers will typically perform Breathalyzer tests at DUI checkpoints. If you take a Breathalyzer test and your blood alcohol content level is higher than 0.08, you are over the legal limit and under arrest. You do however, have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer test at a DUI checkpoint—but, you need to know that you can still be arrested if law enforcement officers feel they have probable cause that you are impaired.
Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?
Field sobriety tests are used to determine if a driver is impaired and unable to properly operate a vehicle. Unlike Breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests are slightly more subjective and rely on the officer’s perception more than the former. You have every right to refuse a field sobriety test; however, you may still be arrested. Much like refusing to answer questions or taking a Breathalyzer, you have the right refuse, but whether you are arrested or not will be based on if the officer believes there is probable cause that you are impaired. Additionally, the refusal may be used against you in your criminal case.
What Will Happen if I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer or Field Sobriety Test?
As a citizen of the United States, you can exercise your 5th Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions or perform sobriety tests at a DUI checkpoint, but there could be consequences. If you do refuse, the law enforcement officer will do one of two things—arrest you or let you go depending on the specific situation. While an arrest will not always turn into a DUI charge, it can lead to other problems. If you are arrested, you could have to give a breath sample to determine your BAC and it is possible that your license could be suspended or revoked for one year for refusing a Breathalyzer test.
Having a drunk driving charge on your record can have some serious ramifications with your life and career. While it is best to never drive under the influence, it is important to know your rights if you encounter a DUI checkpoint. If you refuse to comply with DUI checkpoint procedures or are arrested at a DUI checkpoint, you need a team of legal professionals on your side. The experienced attorneys at Khonsari Law Group have handled a variety of DUI and traffic offenses and will do anything to help better your situation. Click here to visit KLG today.