As you drive home after a night on the town in Spartanburg, you feel a bit tipsy and as though you should not be driving, but you reason that you can get home quickly without being pulled over. Then, you see the telltale lights and signs alerting you to a DUI Checkpoint up ahead, and just beyond the checkpoint is your house.
At this point, you may be wondering what your options are: “Can I skip a DUI checkpoint?” you might ask. You fear that if you proceed through the checkpoint, you’ll be arrested for drinking and driving. However, you might have a similar fear of trying to drive around it, as you might also face criminal repercussions if caught.
The Legality of Driving Around DUI Checkpoint Lanes
Your curiosity in knowing whether you can skip a DUI checkpoint likely stems from being in a situation where you were faced with one and fearing you were too intoxicated to pass any tests presented to you. Your fear is well-founded, as failing a breath or sobriety test at a DUI checkpoint can lead to your arrest and a charge of driving under the influence.
However, law enforcement agencies cannot create and operate a DUI checkpoint anytime and anywhere they desire. The Constitution imposes strict requirements on agencies who want to operate a checkpoint.
Namely, the checkpoint must be:
- Sufficiently visible with adequate signs and lighting
- Publicized via local media before it is operated
- Adequately staffed with officers to keep traffic moving
- Governed by rules that prevent the arbitrary stopping of cars
Another requirement for a legal DUI checkpoint is that there must be an opportunity for drivers to avoid and drive around it. As such, not only can you legally dodge a DUI checkpoint, but law enforcement must allow you to do so.
You Can Still Be Stopped for Avoiding a DUI Checklane
Just because law enforcement must give you a way to avoid going through a checklane does not mean they cannot stop you on that escape route altogether. You could still be stopped and investigated if you commit a traffic violation or otherwise break the law while going around the checkpoint.
For example, suppose that you are traveling along one of Spartansburg’s main streets when you see a DUI checkpoint in the distance. You then turn off down a side street to go around the checkpoint, but you fail to use your turn signal as you make the turn.
If a nearby law enforcement officer catches sight of your traffic violation, they can stop your car and cite you, and should they smell alcohol on your breath or other driving indicators that suggest you are under the influence while they do so, you can be charged and arrested for DUI without ever going through the DUI checkpoint.
Proceed With Caution Around DUI Checkpoints
The decision of whether to go around a DUI checkpoint is yours. Law enforcement officers must give you a way to avoid a DUI check, but you should know that your driving behaviors will still be carefully watched. Traffic violations, unsafe driving, or indicators of impairment are all things that can lead to a traffic stop and arrest.
Contact Mo Abusaft Today
If you are facing DUI charges, either from a DUI checkpoint or a traffic stop, contact the Law Office of Mo Abusaft to consult with a Spartanburg, South Carolina, criminal defense lawyer you can rely on. You may have defenses against a DUI charge if the traffic stop or checkpoint was not conducted in accordance with the law or the Constitution.