What Should You Do At A DUI Traffic Stop?

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A DUI checkpoint, if you've never encountered one, is an event where police stand at a certain point in the road and stop cars to check for obvious signs of driver intoxication. These checkpoints are legal in themselves (although some argue that if the officers don't stay completely within certain limits, then they start to infringe on citizens' rights), so getting upset about them isn't likely to be profitable. Here are some hints to help you determine what you should do if you come across one of these checkpoints.

1. Only try to avoid it if completely legal and safe

One of the signs of driver intoxication that police look for is unsafe driving. This can include illegal U-turns, stopping or slowing down in the middle of the road, stopping on the side of the road where there isn't a safe stopping place, and so on. Of course, if you're aware of the checkpoint soon enough that you can simply take another road that will carry you away from the scene, it's fine to do so. But otherwise, don't even try, because you might just end up making the police suspicious, which is a bad thing.

2. Be pleasant to law enforcement personnel

True, it's not illegal to have a bad attitude, but once again, the police will be looking for signs of drunkenness. Did you know that many people become belligerent when intoxicated? So if the police are simply conducting a routine traffic stop and someone starts behaving belligerently towards them for seemingly no reason, that could be taken as a sign of intoxication, especially if it appears in conjunction with other signs (such as erratic driving). And suspicious behavior also means the police are more likely to have a "probable cause" to search your vehicle, which could lead to other problems.

3. Know what the legal requirements are

If you're trying to be civil yet unhelpful at a traffic stop simply because you're a firm believer in civil rights, it's critical that you understand the legal requirements of the area you're in. Just because you saw someone do it in an online video doesn't mean it's okay where you live. For example, your area may require you to submit to some type of alcohol test if the police officer suspects you've been drinking. 

These tips will help you determine how you should behave when you next come across a sobriety checkpoint. Remember, police could just be stopping every car that comes by, but they could also have noticed something about your driving that makes them suspicious, so don't do anything to make them more suspicious once they've stopped you. If you feel your rights have been abused, however, contact a criminal defense attorney to plead your case.