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How can drivers respond to a DUI checkpoint ahead?

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Police officers in Mississippi may screen people for chemical intoxication during a traffic stop or after a crash. If someone is over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC), police officers can arrest them. Driving under the influence (DUI) charges can carry a variety of different penalties depending on unique factors.

Sometimes, police departments or state agencies want to deter drunk driving through mass enforcement efforts. They conduct DUI checkpoints or safety roadblocks as a way to screen as many drivers as possible in a short amount of time. What can people do when they spot a DUI checkpoint ahead?

Drivers can try to avoid the checkpoint

People sometimes believe that they must proceed directly through a DUI roadblock ahead when they encounter one. However, that is not always true. Depending on the location of the checkpoint and when a driver spots it, they may be able to avoid the checkpoint entirely.

They could turn down another street, for example, to bypass the checkpoint ahead. Still, drivers need to be careful not to violate traffic laws in their attempt to bypass a checkpoint. Conducting an illegal maneuver gives police officers a reason to specifically pull over a driver who attempted to bypass the checkpoint.

U-turns could potentially be a reason for police officers to stop someone in a targeted traffic stop. While Mississippi state law does not impose a blanket ban on U-turns, Hattiesburg has a rule on record prohibiting U-turns. Additionally, U-turns are not lawful in any place with signs posted indicating not to complete a U-turn in that area.

Drivers can assert their rights at the checkpoint

If it isn’t feasible to avoid the checkpoint, a driver can proceed through it with minimal personal risk. The law generally does not require that drivers answer police officer questions. Their licenses and paperwork can provide the basic information the officer needs, such as their name and address.

There is never an obligation to answer questions about personal conduct during a traffic stop, and drivers can also decline testing requests in most cases. Motorists who know their rights are less likely to end up unfairly arrested for a DUI at a checkpoint.

With that said, fighting drunk driving charges after a checkpoint arrest can also be an option in many cases. Motorists who know their rights might find it easier to handle a checkpoint or any charges that follow encountering a checkpoint.