You're driving home one night after work when suddenly you see it: a DUI checkpoint. It is too late to turn back now, and you are pulling up to the roadblock with a mounting sense of dread. What do you do? What do you say? Most importantly, what rights do you have?
Whether or not you have been drinking, going through a sobriety checkpoint can be uncomfortable experience. Fortunately, by being aware of your rights and knowing what to expect, you can prepare yourself for the police's strategies and minimize your chances of getting into trouble. If you should ever approach a DUI checkpoint in Tennessee, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Stay calm: The quickest way for you to end up in hot water is to lose your cool. Losing your composure will only serve to worsen the situation and give the police more of a reason to suspect that you are hiding something. Instead, stay calm and polite, and keep your hands on the wheel where the police can see them. If they ask for your license and registration, ask for permission before reaching into a glove compartment and present them as requested without resistance.
- Do not argue regarding probable cause: Many drivers attempt to get out of a DUI checkpoint by arguing that the police did not have probable cause to pull them over in the first place. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court has debunked argument, ruling that the dangers of drunk driving outweigh the degree of intrusion that sobriety checkpoints present. Basically, the police can stop you at a roadblock without any reason to believe that you have committed any sort of wrongdoing.
- Keep quiet: While you are stopped at the roadblock, the police will likely ask you a series of probing questions with the intent to coax some sort of incriminating information, such as where you were going, where you were coming from, or whether you have been drinking. Do not answer! Anything and everything you say can and will be used against you. Outside of providing your information, you are well within your rights to stay silent.
- Refuse field sobriety tests: If the police are still suspicious, they may ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform a few physical tests. Again, you may, and should, politely decline participation. In fact, these tests are designed to be failed and will only give the police more evidence against you.
- Deny searches: While the police do not need probable cause to stop you, they do need it to search your vehicle. If they do not have probable cause, they will need either a court-issued warrant or your permission to conduct a search. Do not voluntarily give them the ability to search your vehicle.
- Contact an attorney: If you should still find yourself in handcuffs, it is imperative you call a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself against potentially serious consequences such as jail time, fines, and a lengthy suspension of your driver's license. An attorney will be able to guard your rights and provide the compelling arguments you need to minimize your chances of conviction.
Arrested for DUI? Call (615) 809-1859
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, the powerful Franklin, TN DUI Attorney Brian Lee Nash can fight to contest the evidence against you and provide the hard-hitting representation you need to get through this frightening time with your freedom and dignity intact. To learn more about our award-winning advocates can do for you, schedule your confidential case review today.