What Happens at a DUI Checkpoint
All of us if we drive (whether or not we drink) will eventually go through it, if we haven’t a million times already; you’re driving along, usually at night, and at least a pair of blue lights flash as traffic ahead of you slows to a near-standstill. If you haven’t been drinking (and if your license and insurance are up-to-date) you should have little to fear—but if you have been drinking or are under the influence, this checkpoint may unfortunately be the start of a long, expensive, license-free journey.
You should never, for any reason, get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle if you’ve recently consumed alcohol or used any kind of mind-altering substance. You are a danger not only to yourself but also to any number of potential victims, from fellow motorists to pedestrians, when you drive under the influence. Considering the existence of options beyond the kindness of a designated driver, there are fewer and fewer excuses for driving under the influence, especially with the availability of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
But, as we all know, driving under the influence happens anyway. Hopefully, that driver will never be you. Here’s a handy primer on what you can expect to happen at DUI checkpoints.
What to Expect at a DUI Checkpoint
Law enforcement officers set up weekly DUI checkpoints in the state of Mississippi, but DUI checkpoints increase in frequency especially around major holidays, when the festive air might make some of us a little jollier than normal. Typically officers plant themselves along a stretch of a more commonly traveled road and stop drivers in either lane of traffic, not only to ensure they have updated licenses and insurance, but also to make sure drivers aren’t seemingly under the influence.
Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint
Officers must have a reasonable suspicion to attempt to test you for driving under the influence. If an officer thinks you’ve been drinking, they can request you take a field sobriety test, which usually consists of 3 tasks:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN) – An officer asks you to follow a particular stimulus with your eyes to see if they “jerk” at a certain angle.
Walk & Turn Test (WAT) – Walk a certain number of steps, heel-to-toe, then turn on one foot and retrace your path.
One Leg Stand (OLS) – Stand on one leg with the other a certain distance off the ground. Maintaining your balance, count by ones from 1000. (1001, 1002, 1003, etc.)
Field sobriety tests exist as a way to collect evidence likely to be used against you, especially if you perform poorly, which, considering whether or not the officer administers them properly, or how much your level of nervousness (or intoxication) affects you, is likely. It is your right to refuse to take a field sobriety test. You do not have to volunteer a blood, breath, or urine sample to law enforcement. You may still, however, be arrested after refusing a field sobriety test.
Who Can Help You After a DUI Charge
Dealing with charges can be frightening, but a DUI lawyer can make the difference. If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI in Mississippi, contact Andrew Sorrentino to talk about your case.