Around Maryland, you may notice a more extensive police presence on the road around the holidays to deter drunk drivers from causing accidents. This includes setting up sobriety checkpoints on roads to stop drivers and ensure they are sober. However, even for those who haven’t had a drink, these roadblocks can be daunting. Keep reading to learn how to navigate a sobriety checkpoint and discover how an Anne Arundel and Howard County DUI lawyer can help represent you during a legal battle.
What Is a Sobriety Checkpoint?
A sobriety checkpoint is a law enforcement method where police will set up roadblocks on busy streets for drivers to slow down and speak to the officers.
The most important thing to note is that you don’t have to put your window down at a sobriety check point. The officer will want to smell in your vehicle for alcohol. You can decline to engage with the officers. They must let you pass unhindered. They do, however, have officers waiting in vehicles after the checkpoints to follow you in this case. They will follow you and hope that you violate a traffic law so they can pull you over.
If you choose to put your window down and speak with an officer, they will be looking for signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, clumsy movements, the smell of alcohol and drugs, or paraphernalia. They cannot ask if you have been drinking but can ask that you pull over to the side for further investigation.
Are They Legal?
There are currently twelve states that don’t allow sobriety checkpoints, as their state courts have determined that they violate the 4th amendment, which protects from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, Maryland is not one of those states, so these checkpoints are legal in Maryland.
However, to be legal, they must follow specific guidelines. In Maryland, this includes:
- The public must be notified in advance about the stop
- There must be signs and lights to indicate the stop to approaching drivers
- Cars must be able to turn off prior to the checkpoint
- You are not required to put your window down or speak with the police
- The police cannot pull you over for refusing to participate around unless you did something illegal or violated traffic laws.
What Should I Do if Arrested at a Checkpoint?
If you are arrested at a checkpoint, ensuring you take the necessary steps to avoid escalating the situation is vital. Under no circumstances should you try to resist arrest. Instead, you should follow the officer’s orders. Failure to comply can leave you with additional criminal charges.
You may also want to remain silent. Though it may be natural to want to plead innocent, you may accidentally incriminate yourself, which can be held against you in court. Instead, inform the officers that you wish to remain silent and do not speak until you have an attorney to guide you.
If you were arrested at a sobriety checkpoint for drinking and driving, ensuring you have an attorney present is essential. The charges can leave a permanent stain on your record. An experienced lawyer can help fight the charges and will do their best to provide the best possible outcome for the circumstances. Contact the Law Offices of Debra A. Saltz to connect with our team and discuss the details of your case.