Three Myths About Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints often occur on holidays, high-traffic weekends, and popular driving routes. This makes them common during the summer – but do you know what you do and don’t have to do if you’re stopped at a sobriety checkpoint? To help you out, we’ve addressed some common misconceptions that could get you in trouble.

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  1. If I come across a sobriety checkpoint, there’s no way I can avoid it.

Actually, you don’t have to participate in these checkpoints at all. Drivers can’t be arrested for turning around to avoid it – in fact the police department must give people an alternative to turn around if they don’t want to be stopped.

  1. If I’m stopped, I need to do everything the police offer says.

This is a common misconception. Believe it or not, drivers aren’t required to follow all instructions given by the officer. If stopped, you don’t even have to roll your window down! You are allowed to speak to the officer through the window. This brings us to our next myth…

  1. When speaking to the officer, I have to answer all questions asked.

This one isn’t entirely true either. You are only required to answer questions related to your identity like your name, address, etc. While you may be asked for your license and registration, you don’t have to answer questions about your reason for driving. In fact, it’s probably better not to answer questions about your past and future activities because anything you say to the officer could be used as evidence against you if you’re arrested.

How to Tell If It’s Legit

The police department follows very specific rules before and during sobriety checkpoints. If these conditions aren’t met, any evidence collected during the checkpoint may be thrown out. Here are a few things to look out for:

  • The checkpoint must be conducted by uniformed officers in police vehicles.
  • Drivers must be selected in a predetermined random pattern.
  • When drivers approach the designated area, the police department has to show a notice that the checkpoint is happening (often, they display a sign).

Not sure what to do? Don’t fear – if you get arrested, you can always exercise your constitutional right not to speak to an officer without the your attorney present.