DUI Checkpoints used to happen a lot in Orangeburg. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is one of the leading causes of road traffic accidents in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 people die daily in the US from crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. So, it’s not surprising that states have strict laws and punishments for driving impaired.
One of the ways states try to reduce the number of crashes caused by drunk drivers is by creating sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints are seen mostly on weekends, especially holiday weekends. This article looks at the legality of DUI checkpoints in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
Our Orangeburg DUI defense lawyers also discuss the rights a person has when stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. If you get arrested for driving under the influence, we offer an excellent legal defense. So, waste no time in contacting us.
The Legality of DUI Checkpoints Under South Carolina Law
A DUI checkpoint is where a law enforcement agency like the police or South Carolina Highway Patrol stops vehicles on public roadways to determine whether the driver is driving under the influence or not. Unfortunately, drivers often believe that the police must have probable cause to stop drivers at a DUI checkpoint. However, a decision of the US Supreme Court states otherwise.
The court stated that the degree of danger created by impaired drivers outweighs the degree of the intrusion of sobriety checkpoints. Although most people disagree with this ruling, it is undeniably clear that the Supreme Court decided to protect the public from drunk drivers. This is why South Carolina laws make DUI checkpoints legal in the state.
However, the law lays down specific guidelines that law enforcement officers must follow. If they don’t, evidence obtained from the checkpoint would be illegal and inadmissible. These guidelines include:
- Stopping Cars in a Predictable Manner: Law enforcement officers cannot randomly stop cars. If they do, it would appear that they are singling out certain people to the exclusion of others. Hence, they must stop cars using a neutral formula.
- The Stop Site Must Be Safe and Identifiable: Law enforcement officers must take safety precautions when creating a sobriety checkpoint. This includes using proper lighting, setting up warning signs and signals. In addition, the law enforcement agency at the DUI checkpoint must indicate whether it is a license or DUI checkpoint. Lastly, the officers involved in the checkpoint must wear their uniforms.
- The Stop Must Be Brief: Holding a driver longer than necessary is not allowed at a sobriety checkpoint. If officers hold you longer than they did other motorists, ensure you inform your DUI defense lawyer.
- The Checkpoint Must Be Effective: Here, the prosecution must show evidence that the checkpoint served the public’s interest.
What Rights Do You Have at a DUI Checkpoint?
When law enforcement officers stop you at a sobriety checkpoint, you have the following rights.
Right to Silence
At sobriety checkpoints, the first thing law enforcement officers do is approach stopped vehicles and ask the drivers questions. Most people answer these questions because they feel obligated to or feel they’ll be in trouble if they don’t. But you have the right to stay silent. You do not have to respond to the questions, and you can present a card stating you want to exercise your constitutional rights. You can also leave your windows rolled up to show you’d rather not speak to the officer.
Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Once an officer can get a suspected drunk driver out of the car, the next thing is to get them to perform a field sobriety or roadside test. These tests include standing on one leg, counting backward, walking a straight line, etc. Based on the driver’s performance on the tests, the officer may arrest them for impaired driving. Note that these tests are not conclusive, so you can politely refuse to undergo them.
Right to Refuse Breath Tests
Aside from a field sobriety test, an officer can ask you to take breath tests. This involves blowing into a device that would then record your blood alcohol level. If you get 0.08%, it means you’re legally impaired. You can refuse to take this test unless you have been placed under arrest. If that is the case, South Carolina’s implied consent law mandates you to take the breath test.
Contact Orangeburg DUI Lawyer Today!
Another right you have at a sobriety checkpoint is to contact an attorney. You should do this once it’s clear the officer wants to take you into custody. Thus, you should contact an Orangeburg DUI defense lawyer immediately. We will either prove your innocence or get you a minor punishment while protecting your rights. Call us today for a free consultation.