Making A U-Turn: The Legality Of Sobriety Checkpoints
It is common knowledge that law enforcement officers are required to have probable cause in order to stop you. Sobriety checkpoints seem to be the exception to this rule. Officers typically must witness a violation or signs of intoxicated driving. Sobriety checkpoints allow officers to stop and detain drivers at any point, and the United States has deemed it constitutional. There are a few things to know the next time you roll up to a checkpoint, including your many options.
Of course, there are still quite a few different rules that law enforcement must abide by when performing these checkpoints. For instance, supervisors must make the decision to conduct a checkpoint. Additionally, officers are not given permission to paint the town red. They have strict limits. The safety of the checkpoints must be maintained well to protect all drivers and officers.
It is not acceptable for an officer to choose any destination for a checkpoint. Checkpoints must be established for efficiency and efficacy. It would make no sense for the officers to set up a checkpoint on a country road that receives little nighttime traffic. Motorists must be stopped only for a short amount of time. They simply must answer a few questions while the officer looks for any sign that the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
The last rule is perhaps the most relevant to this question. The officers are supposed to alert the public that these checkpoints will be established. This means that signs must be set up ahead of the destination to warn drivers about what they are about to enter. Seeing the signs could make it likely for drivers to make U-turns.
Technically, the law does not require motorists to enter and exit the checkpoint. This would imply that there is no crime in turning away before you reach the checkpoint. Unfortunately, doing so may draw attention to you. For this reason, you need to make sure that you are not breaking any other laws in the process. For instance, you do not want to make a left turn where it is illegal to do so. Committing a traffic violation gives the officer probable cause to stop you.
If you were to commit no crime in turning away from the checkpoint, you are in the clear. Officers cannot stop you for simply turning around, although you may look suspicious in doing so. Simply ensure that you are not violating traffic laws and you will be on your way home in a jiffy. If you ever find yourself in a sticky situation due to one of these checkpoints, be sure to contact a DWI lawyer in your area.