Every year, hundreds of drunk driving accidents occur in New Jersey. As a result, police officers will often take preventative measures to lower this frightening statistic. One method is by setting up sobriety checkpoints to monitor passing drivers. These usually entail stopping each driver to ask if they’ve been drinking and performing sobriety tests if necessary. However, many drivers wonder if they have to comply with these unexpected checks. To learn about your rights during a DUI checkpoint in New Jersey, read this blog or reach out to a Bergen County, New Jersey DUI Lawyer today!
IS LEGAL FOR A POLICE OFFICER TO PERFORM A DUI CHECKPOINT?
Yes, it is legal for police officers to set up random DUI checkpoints. While the 4th Amendment protects Americans from being searched without reasonable cause, the Supreme Court has determined that there are some exceptions to this. There are tens of thousands of alcohol-related auto accident deaths every year in the United States, so the epidemic of drunk driving has become a public safety concern. Many courts agree that the need to prevent drunk driving accidents outweighs the inconvenience to drivers. While it is legal for police officers to perform these checkpoints,
CAN I AVOID A SOBRIETY CHECKPOINT?
There are some ways that you may be able to legally avoid speaking to a police officer at a DUI checkpoint. Some people attempt to make a U-turn to attempt to avoid driving through the checkpoint. This is perfectly legal as long as you don’t break any traffic violations in the process of turning. However, there’s a chance that the police officer manning the DUI checkpoint could spot you trying to avoid them, so you might get pulled over anyway for suspicious behavior. If you want to turn to completely avoid the checkpoint, your best bet is to turn as soon as you spot the checkpoint when you’re as far away from the officer as possible.
You also have the right to keep your window rolled up and refuse to speak to the police officer. However, to ensure that refusing to comply doesn’t get you arrested, you should tape a statement on the inside of your driver’s side window that explains you’re exercising your right to remain silent. This way, the police officer can read your statement without you needing to speak to them. You’ll still be legally required to show them your license and registration though, so you can place these in a bag and hang them outside your window.
If a police officer violated your legal rights or you’ve been unlawfully arrested at a DUI checkpoint, you should contact a trusted criminal defense lawyer immediately. No need to panic because the Law Office of E. Gregory M. Cannarozzi is on your side! Contact our firm today to find out how a highly experienced DUI attorney may be able to help you.