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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Former Traffic Court Judge

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Do I have to speak to law enforcement at a DUI checkpoint?

Knowing your rights when entering a DUI checkpoint is a valuable tool. Though such checkpoints are actually banned or not used in 12 states, the Governors Highway Safety Association points out that they are in legal use under New York traffic law.

One of the most important rights you have at a checkpoint is the right to remain silent, even though you have not been arrested. Keeping quiet is useful because speaking to an officer could provide information that would raise suspicions and prompt an investigation. For example, an officer may ask how much you have had to drink. Even admitting to just one or two drinks, which may not put you over the legal limit, could lead to field sobriety testing or a breath test. These tests have been proven to produce false positives and lead to wrongful arrests.

Further, as an article in the New York Post illustrates, motorists do not have to roll down their windows and may instead simply hold up a driver’s license and other information. One of the reasons keeping a window rolled up may be useful is to prevent officers from smelling alcohol, even if you have only had one drink.

Other laws that are useful to know when entering a checkpoint include the following: 

  •        You are allowed to refuse field sobriety tests.
  •        You may refuse a breath test, but as the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services points out, you may then face a driver’s license suspension.
  •        Law enforcement members are not allowed to search your vehicle unless they have probable cause to do so.

You may also refuse to answer any questions until you have an attorney present. While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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