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Sobriety Checkpoints and DUI Stops: What You Need to Know

Now that fall is here, many Hoosiers will take advantage of the cooler, crisp weather by hosting backyard bonfires, attending football tailgates and testing out new fall-flavored beverages at many craft breweries around the state. Each year, Indiana sets up sobriety checkpoints across the state to help curb the potential for drinking and driving, and you should be on the lookout this fall. So, what are sobriety checkpoints and what can you do if you encounter one?

What can I expect at a sobriety checkpoint?
Officers will ask you to roll down your window, check your driver’s license and registration, and ask a few questions. They’ll analyze your appearance and actions for suspicion of drinking and driving, looking for signs like bloodshot eyes, opened containers, slurred speech, or the presence of an alcohol odor.

Can I turn around to avoid the checkpoint?
Yes, as long as you do so lawfully. You can make a legal maneuver to alter your route and avoid the checkpoint. However, making an illegal U-turn or speeding will only increase your chances of getting pulled over, as at that point you’ve made the decision to violate standard traffic laws.

Why do some cars get stopped and not others?
While it is true that an officer must have probable cause to pull you over, sobriety checkpoints are set up to enforce DUI laws and keep the general public safe. In order to prevent discrimination, it’s a state law that officers must have a predetermined strategy for which cars will be stopped. This could be every other car, or every third car. If you think you’ve been targeted unfairly, we can help.

Do I have to cooperate with officers?
Yes! It is crucial that you cooperate and are respectful to law enforcement. You are required to roll down your window and provide your license and registration. However, you do not have to continue answering questions. Simply saying “I’m choosing to remain silent” still shows officers respect, while practicing your rights. Failing to comply with officers can only lead to further problems.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or other test?
Yes. Many of these tests, such as a breathalyzer and a field sobriety test, can result in false positives. If you do choose not to participate, it’s probably best to refuse the roadside field sobriety test, which can yield subjective and unreliable results. However, if you refuse a breath, blood or urine test, the police officer may seek a warrant to force you to submit a blood sample.

Appreciate why these checkpoints are in place.
While it may seem inconvenient to be stopped behind a line of cars at a sobriety checkpoint, it’s important to remember and appreciate why these checkpoints are in place: to keep you safe.

If you encounter a sobriety checkpoint and are charged with an OWI/DUI or think you’ve been convicted unfairly, contact Tandy Law Firm. You deserve to have a trusted lawyer on your side and we’ll help you understand and fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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