Police use DUI checkpoints to check drivers for possible intoxication. There are some things you should know about your rights at these stops.
The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force, a law enforcement group organized to help catch people suspected of drunk driving throughout the region, ramped up its efforts over the most recent Labor Day weekend. According to Tucson News Now, law enforcement agencies in Pima County embarked on saturation patrols, which resulted in more than 450 stops and 27 arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence.
As part of the effort, the task force set up a DUI checkpoint on a road known for its relatively high rates of alcohol-related accidents and arrests. Drivers traveling on the road were required to stop for police officers, who checked motorists to make sure they weren't operating their vehicles while intoxicated. In addition, the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety stated that more than 200 people were arrested for DUI by Saturday afternoon of Labor Day weekend.
These checkpoints are a common tactic of law enforcement agencies across Arizona and nationwide. According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration, 38 states and the District of Columbia conduct these sobriety checks, while 12 states do not. Texas, for example, prohibits DUI checkpoints based on its lawmakers' interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Your rights when pulled over in a DUI stop
If you are stopped at one of these checkpoints, it's important to know your rights and the requirements law enforcement officers must adhere to when conducting them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, checkpoints must be visible from a distance so that drivers have enough time to stop in safe manner. A patrol vehicle should also have its lights flashing at the checkpoint to properly warn motorists of the upcoming stop.
During a stop, officers are allowed to ask for your driver's license and may ask for your vehicle registration or proof of insurance. When they do so, you should know that police are also looking at your general behavior and attitude, as well as any signs of impairment. However, these stops can be stressful for even sober drivers, so law enforcement officers could mistake anxiety or nervousness for intoxication.
If a police officer requests that you step out of the vehicle to perform a field sobriety test, it's important to note that it is unwise for anyone to perform any field test. Officers often use these results to judge if you are impaired due to drugs or alcohol. If they believe that's the case, they may then ask you to take a Breathalyzer test, which measures your breath alcohol content. Registering a BAC level of any amount will likely result in police officers placing you under arrest. It is again unwise to blow into the hand held breath testing device roadside. Instead you should immediately and politely request to speak to an attorney. The officers will likely warn you that if you refuse a chemical test, like a breath or blood test, you may lose your driving privileges for up to one year. That is only partially true, and an attorney will be able to advise you of what is in your best interest. It is important to be firm in your request.
Contacting an attorney
If you've been arrested for suspicion of DUI at a checkpoint or simply pulled over and you believe your rights were violated in the process, work with a skilled drunk driving defense attorney in Phoenix.
Keywords: DUI, Arizona