The very first question you may be asking yourself when you get stopped at a DUI checkpoint is, “Do they even have a right to stop me? I wasn’t doing anything wrong!”
You are actually correct. Technically speaking, DUI checkpoints can be considered a violation of Fourth Amendment rights. However, the US Supreme Court has upheld decisions that label DUI checkpoints as important for the good of all citizens. The public’s interest in keeping drunk drivers off the road, the Top Court says, is more important than guarding your Constitutional right to be driving without being stopped and questioned.
So, individual states were given the ability to determine if and when they would use DUI checkpoints in an effort to reduce drunk driving, making the roadways safer for all drivers. While some states decided to do away with these roadblocks, New Jersey isn’t one of those.
Therefore, New Jersey law requires you to participate in DUI checkpoints, providing your license and registration when they are requested.
There are, however, some things you can do to protect your rights:
- When you are approaching the checkpoint, stay calm. Don’t make sudden movements.
- Make sure your hands are visible so as not to make a cop think you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing.
There are also some things you don’t have to do:
- You do not have to answer any questions put to you by law enforcement. You hand them your credentials and say nothing. This includes answering questions about how much you have had to drink. Be polite, but protect your own rights.
- Decline any request to take field sobriety tests (but know that if you are asked to take a Breathalyzer test, you must comply.)
If you are detained (pulled over) for questioning and get arrested, ask for an attorney immediately – even if you haven’t been arrested. You will be read your Miranda Rights, including the “right to remain silent and the right to request an attorney.” Take these rights seriously; don’t talk without a lawyer present.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, don’t go it alone. Contact the experienced lawyers at the Wilton Law Firm today for a consultation about your traffic violation charges – whether or not your legal trouble began at a DUI checkpoint.