DUI checkpoints (also called sobriety checkpoints) are legal in the state of Georgia. Local law enforcement will typically schedule these checkpoints during holiday weekends because statistically, there are more drunk driving accidents during these times. DUI checkpoints must be announced, which is one of the requirements of a legal checkpoint. These stops must also be random, rather than targeted. This means that law enforcement must decide ahead of time how they will stop cars (ex: every 4th vehicle). Because anyone can be stopped at these checkpoints, it's important you know your rights.
- You have the right to be free from unwarranted searches – Police cannot search your vehicle unless they have probable cause to do so, even at DUI checkpoints. Probable cause could include: bloodshot eyes, smell of alcohol on a person's breath, testing positive on a roadside breath test, and drug dogs (if present) indicating that they smell a controlled substance.
- You have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer test – At DUI checkpoints, it is common for law enforcement to use roadside Breathalyzer tests. Since chemical breath and blood tests are only required by law after an arrest, you have every right to refuse. This is a field sobriety test.
- You have the right to refuse other field sobriety tests – You also have the right to refuse taking other field sobriety tests such as the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, or the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). We suggest that you don't take these tests, as they can be highly subjective.
- You have the right to be free from unreasonable detainment – Ask the law enforcement officer if you are free to go. Law enforcement cannot detain you unless they have probable cause that you have committed a crime. If you ask "Officer, am I being detained?" and they answer that you are not, then they must let you go.
- You have the right to remain silent – While it is always a good idea to be respectful and answer the officer when he or she is speaking to you, you have the right to remain silent to avoid saying anything that could be self-incriminating.
If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint in or near Gwinnett County, contact a DUI defense lawyer at our firm. The Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson can fight for you!