Summer is almost here and with it comes a season full of parties, festivals, barbecues and weddings. As the celebrations begin, the police will be setting up sobriety checkpoints throughout the country. Their aim is to identify impaired drivers in order to keep the roadways safe.
There are some who feel that sobriety checkpoints violate their Fourth Amendment rights, which states that the people have a right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” However, the Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are legal, subject to state law. Maryland’s laws permit them.
What are my options at a sobriety checkpoint?
When you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, the officer will ask you two questions:
- Have you been drinking?
- Where are you coming from/going to?
You have the right to refuse to answer, but it’s important to understand that could raise suspicions, and it may result in you being pulled over to the side of the road for a field sobriety test. The best way to handle the checkpoint is to answer the officer without offering up additional information. A simple yes or no will suffice.
If you are approaching a sobriety checkpoint, you may turn around. However, you should only do this if:
- You are further back in the line of cars.
- You have room to turn around.
- You can do so without violating any traffic laws.
If you are pulled over and asked to take a field sobriety test, you have the right to refuse. However, if you refuse and the officer thinks that you are intoxicated, you will be arrested. Should this happen, the best thing you can do is remain silent and contact an experienced legal guide as soon as possible.