If you are stopped and arrested due to a sobriety checkpoint, there are options available to you to protect yourself from DUI charges.
By now, most Massachusetts motorists at some point or another have encountered or at least heard of roadblocks set up by police to check for impaired drivers. These checkpoints have been used more frequently by law enforcement officers since 2012. They are most commonly found in areas or communities where drinking and driving is believed to be a serious problem.
There are many specific procedures that police must follow when establishing the checkpoints. While they do not have to disclose the exact location of the roadblock, they must state the county and the day that the roadblock will be occurring. Also, before the checkpoint begins, they must decide how they will administer the random stops. For example, the officers may agree that every fifth vehicle traveling through the roadblock will be stopped and the driver will be interviewed. Any deviations from these plans could result in pre-trial challenges to DUI arrests that are made as a result of the roadblock. Such deviations could lead to the complete dismissal of charges.
If police believe that one of the drivers they have encountered is impaired, they will instruct the motorist to pull off to the side of the road, where additional screening may take place. This additional screening will likely include additional questioning, and, if the driver demonstrates signs of impairment, could also lead to the administration of field sobriety tests.
Many arrests are made because the motorists are deemed to have failed the field sobriety tests. This allows officers to transport a driver to the police station, where breath test may be offered in order to determine the driver's blood-alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the stop. If the motorist is above the legal limit, this evidence will be used to demonstrate that he or she was impaired at the time of the stop.
What You Should Do If You Encounter A Police Sobriety Roadblock
Some drivers who see that a checkpoint is taking place immediately panic. They may not have had anything to drink, but they are still concerned about the potential for a negative interaction with police. They may decide to make a u-turn or take other measures to avoid the roadblock, which increases the suspicion that an officer may have.
If you are stopped by police in a checkpoint, you should know that they are looking to gather as much evidence as possible to use against you to support an arrest for DUI. You should politely answer the officers' questions to try to minimize the inconvenience and length of the stop. Of course, if you show any signs of impairment, they may try to request that you participate in field sobriety tests. If you refuse, you could still be arrested for DUI. In Massachusetts, however, your refusal to perform field sobriety tests is not something that the prosecution can use against you at trial. The same goes for your refusal to take a breathalyzer.
It is important to note that if you are arrested and charged with DUI as a result of a DUI checkpoint stop, there may be many avenues available to you to build a strong defense to these allegations. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about your options. Driving-under-the-influence charges carry potentially serious punishment in Massachusetts - penalties which are heightened if you have prior similar offenses If. A DUI defense lawyer will best be able to present you with your options in any given case - and advise you on the best way to proceed.