What Should I Do If I Am Stopped At A Roadblock?
You are coming home late one night from a party or football game when suddenly you see cars stopped ahead and police officers with light bars blazing. Your first thought may be that there was an accident, but soon you notice that each car is being subjected to screening. It is a roadblock, and the officers are probably checking for drunk drivers as well as license and registration.
You think back quickly to the beers you consumed during the game. Are you over the limit? What should you do when you pull up to the roadblock? Can you legally refuse a field sobriety test? These are all questions that may run through your mind. Here are some tips on what to do if you are faced with a roadblock and how to minimize your exposure to a possible DUI charge.
- Remain calm. If you have had a couple of beers, do not panic. Most roadblocks are designed to look for very obviously drunk drivers. If you cooperate politely but refuse to engage in a long conversation, there is every chance you will pass safely through the roadblock without being stopped.
- Know, but do not brag about, your rights. Understand what you are and are not required to do at a roadblock, but do not talk about your "rights." In fact, the less you say at a roadblock, the better! The police do have a right to ask you to see your driver's license and vehicle registration as well as your insurance card. They do not have the right to search your vehicle without your consent unless they have probable cause to suspect you of a crime.
- Do not allow police to put anything into your vehicle. Flashlights and other objects should stay outside your car. These objects may contain alcohol sensors. Instead of rolling your window all the way down, roll it down enough to hand out your driver's license but not far enough to allow unimpaired access to the vehicle's interior.
- Do not answer questions. If you answer some questions but not others, you may create suspicion in the officer's mind. Instead, give a stock answer like, "I'm sorry, officer, but I do not approve of roadblocks. May I leave now?" Remember that you only have to give the officer your license; you are not required to tell the authorities where you are going or where you have been.
- Field sobriety tests. The sole purpose of a field sobriety test is to establish probable cause for a blood test, which the police can perform anyway, even without your consent. In most cases, you are better off refusing to perform the field sobriety test, although this usually guarantees that the officers will take your blood.
It is hard to know how to handle some situations involving roadblocks. Stay courteous but firm. Call a DUI defense attorney at the earliest opportunity to protect your rights.