You have likely at least heard of DUI checkpoints, and maybe even experienced one. If you do come across one, do you know what your rights are? Are you aware that if you are arrested for a DUI at a checkpoint you may be able to challenge the legality of such checkpoint? Many people have heard about DUI checkpoints, but few knew the requirements that states must follow at these spots.
Are Checkpoints Legal in South Carolina?
The short answer is yes, but to be considered lawful they must comply with very specific regulations. When law enforcement set up a checkpoint and arrest you, they trigger your rights under the Fourth Amendment which protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Police are also not allowed to just set up a checkpoint anywhere they want. They are required to have a stated purpose, or it is a violation of your rights. To determine the constitutionality of a checkpoint, it must balance three factors. Is the gravity of the public interest being served, is the degree of the seizure serving the public interest, and is the severity of the checkpoint interfering with individual liberty?
This means that the checkpoint must be designed in a manner to ensure roadway safety. The state must produce data that supports the effectiveness of the roadblock. Failure to provide this evidence will result in the checkpoint being deemed unconstitutional.
South Carolina Specific Requirements
The above requirements are general requirements under the Constitution, but South Carolina has its own list of requirements for DUI checkpoints.
- The police must have a policy that addresses DUI checkpoints that includes equipment to be used, officer training, and media relations.
- Statistical evidence must be gathered to validate the checkpoint.
- A specific plan must be implemented regarding the site of the checkpoint to ensure safety.
- The checkpoint must be visible as a police action.
- Contact with each motorist should be brief unless impairment is suspected. At that point, the motorist should be directed to a designated test area on the side of the road and out of the flow of traffic.
- A supervisor must be on the scene of each checkpoint and establish the roadblock.
- Police are not allowed to randomly stop motorists. Instead, they must stop them in a neutral manner, such as every vehicle, every other vehicle, etc.
What to Do if You Are Stopped at a South Carolina Checkpoint
If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the most important thing to do is to stay calm and be respectful. Being stopped by the police is usually stressful for drivers, but acting upset or overly nervous can make you appear suspicious. In addition, even if you are upset by the stop, be respectful. Escalating the situation will only make matters worse and it’s a battle you aren’t likely to win. Exercise your right to be silent. This cannot be emphasized enough. You don’t have to consent to a vehicle search either. If the officer asks, simply refuse politely. Silence cannot imply your consent, nor does it make you appear guilty. If you are asked to perform a field sobriety test, you aren’t required to do so. However, refusal to perform the test will be considered cause to suspend your driver’s license.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney Today
If you are facing charges of DUI, it is important to have an experienced Charleston criminal defense attorney on your side. The attorneys at David Aylor Law Offices will ensure your rights are protected and help you get the best possible outcome for your charges. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.