How to Deal With DUI Checkpoints in Charleston

If you’re driving through Charleston, it’s important to understand your rights when approaching a DUI checkpoint. Legally, police officers can stop vehicles at sobriety checkpoints to check if the driver is intoxicated. However, they cannot search your car or test you without cause. Below, a Charleston DUI defense attorney explains what you should know about your rights and obligations when approaching a checkpoint.

What to Expect at a DUI Checkpoint

When you approach a DUI checkpoint, the first thing you’ll notice is the bright lights and traffic cones. Police officers will wave you into a single lane of traffic, where they’ll check each driver.

Questions and Observation

The officer will likely ask you a few questions about where you’re coming from and if you’ve had anything to drink. Answer honestly, but don’t feel obligated to make unnecessary small talk.

They’ll observe your behavior and speech to check for signs of impairment. Avoid direct eye contact, sudden movements, or excessive talking.

Field Sobriety Tests

If they suspect you’re intoxicated, they may ask you to complete field sobriety tests like walking in a straight line or standing on one leg.

Politely refuse these tests, as they are voluntary and often inaccurate. You have the right to decline without penalty.

Breathalyzer Test

Officers can legally require you to take a breathalyzer test to check your blood alcohol concentration. If it’s over 0.08%, you will likely be arrested for DUI. Otherwise, stay calm, and you’ll be free to go.

Your Rights During a DUI Stop

If you’re stopped at one, it’s important to know your rights. First, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence before pulling you over. Signs like swerving and driving too slowly or too fast can constitute reasonable suspicion.

Once pulled over, the officer will likely ask you some questions about where you’re headed and if you’ve been drinking. You have the right to remain silent, so you don’t have to answer. However, refusing to answer questions may lead the officer to believe you have been drinking.

do not try to evade an officer's signal to pull over for a DUI check

If the officer smells alcohol on your breath or notices signs of intoxication like slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test. These include walking heel-to-toe in a straight line or standing on one leg. You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, but refusing them will likely lead to arrest and having your license suspended.

Stay Calm and Cooperate

The best approach at a DUI checkpoint is to remain calm and cooperative. Have your license, registration, and insurance information ready to provide to the officer.

Be polite but firm, and clearly state that you do not consent to any searches. Trying to avoid a checkpoint by making an abrupt U-turn or other evasive action will likely only make the situation much worse.

What Happens I You Fail Field Sobriety Tests

Failing the field sobriety tests the officer conducts at the checkpoint means you’ll likely be detained for further questioning and testing. The officer will have seen signs that you may be impaired, like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or trouble balancing.

Chemical Testing

The officer will likely have you take either a breathalyzer or blood test to check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In Charleston, a BAC of 0.08% or higher is considered legally drunk for drivers over 21. Refusing to take a chemical test will result in an automatic license suspension.

Arrest and Processing

If your BAC is over the legal limit or the officer still believes you are impaired, you will be placed under arrest. Your vehicle will be towed. You will have to provide fingerprints and mugshots before being taken to jail.

Reach Out to Charleston DUI Guy for Immediate Assistance

If, after reading this guide, you have additional questions about DUI checkpoints in Charleston, don’t hesitate to contact Charleston DUI Guy. Our firm has successfully helped many clients navigate the legal complexities that come with a DUI arrest.

Don’t go through this difficult experience alone. The attorneys at Charleston DUI Guy have a proven track record of success defending DUI cases and safeguarding clients’ rights. Call our firm at (843) 277-8711 for a free consultation about your case.