Some states have determined that DUI checkpoints are unconstitutional. Maryland is not one of these states — often conducting checkpoints during weekends and holidays to deter drunk driving.
While DUI checkpoints are lawful here, the authorities must follow strict rules established by the Supreme Court. For example, checkpoints must be clearly labeled to inform motorists of what lies ahead. It’s important to understand what the police can and cannot do during a checkpoint to help ensure your rights are protected.
Can they only stop certain motorists?
Police officers may not single out drivers because of their appearance or the state of their motor vehicle. Driver selection must be impartial and neutral to avoid violating the rights of American citizens. Maryland ensures impartiality by stopping all drivers during checkpoint operations.
Can they administer breath tests?
As in all DUI situations, law enforcement must have probable cause before conducting field sobriety tests or administering a breath test. They generally use the initial seconds or minutes of interaction to assess the need for further investigation or to establish probable cause.
Can they chase you if you turn to avoid a checkpoint?
The police cannot chase after you just because you are avoiding a sobriety checkpoint. However, if an officer observes you breaking the law when leaving, they may have grounds to follow and stop your vehicle. For example, making an illegal U-turn may give the police cause to follow.
Sobriety checkpoints can be inconvenient, but it serves your interests to cooperate. Remember to pay attention to police officer actions during the checkpoint, especially if it leads to an arrest. You may be able to use any mistakes they made to avoid a DUI conviction.