Can You Turn Away From a Sobriety Checkpoint?

By Jonathan Blecher on July 14, 2017

You’re driving home after having a few drinks with friends and you notice something that no driver ever enjoys seeing – a sobriety
checkpoint. Is it worth the risk of going through the checkpoint when you know there is some alcohol in your system, considering many people are arrested at sobriety checkpoints despite low breath alcohol levels? Or, should you take a chance and make a U-turn before getting any closer? Well, it depends on your circumstances.

Police officers take these checkpoints seriously and implement them to prevent drunk driving. They are constitutionally permissible, provided the police follow strict guidelines. While they are common after major holidays and events, a sobriety checkpoint can pop up at any time. Keep reading to learn how to handle your next checkpoint and what could happen
if you try to avoid it.

What happens if I decide to turn away?

Most checkpoints implement a “chase” car strategy. This means that one officer is responsible for chasing down drivers who turn away from the checkpoint. This goes for drivers who make a U-turn, turn onto a street before the checkpoint, or reverse away from the checkpoint. Police look for a reason to pull you over, so be careful.

If you turn away, it is important to ensure that your driving is legal. Check for signs banning U-turns, double yellow lines, single lanes, oncoming traffic or kicking up a rock or two on the turn. Breaking a traffic law gives an officer a reason to pull you over and use the driving pattern as probable cause for a DUI arrest.

You should also note that turning away from a checkpoint can make an officer suspicious. They may assume that your choice not to go through the checkpoint implies that you are driving drunk and choose to briefly detain you for further questioning.

So while turning away from a sobriety checkpoint is not illegal, it is a matter of weighing the risks. You may go through the checkpoint and not be stopped, or your blood alcohol content could be below the legal limit. Or you could turn away and get arrested for breaking a law. In the end, it is a matter of being wise about your decision.

If you do get arrested at a sobriety checkpoint, my firm is here for you. I have more than 30 years of experience as a Miami DUI attorney and can fight to protect your rights. Call today for a free consultation!

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