You may have noticed that police show increased presence on Louisiana roadways at certain times of year. That is because drunk driving crashes tend to spike around particular holidays like Fourth of July weekend, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
If you get caught in a long line of standstill traffic and realize the holdup is due to a police checkpoint, not only might you be late in reaching your destination; you might wind up facing a DUI charge if things don’t go your way when it’s your turn at the checkpoint.
What to do and not do at a DUI checkpoint
Let’s say you’re driving along and you see flashing lights and a roadblock up ahead. As soon as you realize it’s a police checkpoint, are you breaking the law if you do an about-face and head the other way? The answer is that it depends on several factors. The following information provides further explanation as well as other issues to keep in mind at any police checkpoint:
- The law does not obligate you to approach a police checkpoint. However, you are definitely not allowed to disobey existing traffic laws. For example, blowing past police at the checkpoint, committing an illegal maneuver (such as u-turn in an area where it’s prohibited) or other erratic behavior behind the wheel may wind up getting you into a lot more trouble than you might have faced if you had simply stopped at the roadblock.
- The U.S. Supreme Court deemed DUI checkpoints legal under the Constitutional. However, this does not mean that police can simply do whatever they want at a checkpoint. As always, strict protocol binds police not to violate your rights when conducting any form of search or seizure process.
- Although it’s never a good idea to act contrarily when police are asking questions at a DUI checkpoint, you also do not have to engage in conversation beyond typical personal identification or vehicle information. Beyond that, you may wish to request the presence of an attorney before you say anything that authorities might later use against you if you face charges.
Most police checkpoints amount to nothing more than temporary inconveniences. If your situation unfolds into something more, you may have your work cut out for you when trying to protect your rights and fight drunk driving charges in court.
For more on mounting a strong defense against DUI charges in Louisiana — and to learn more about requesting an administrative hearing to protect your driver’s license — please see our Baton Rouge DUI defense overview.