By now, you have probably seen DUI checkpoints set up on Georgia roads. You may have even had to go through them before. The experience can be incredibly stressful, whether you have had a drink or two or are completely sober.
If you are not familiar with DUI checkpoints, it helps to understand what they are and the purpose they serve.
What are DUI checkpoints?
DUI checkpoints are specific areas of Georgia roads where a road barricade is set up. Every driver who goes through the checkpoint is stopped by police officers and checked for signs of drunk driving.
The officers check for more obvious signs of intoxication, such as the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or empty containers of alcohol in the vehicle.
Any or all these signs could give the officers probable cause to detain you for additional testing. The testing is usually a breath test, which you should not refuse.
Why you should not refuse a breath test
Some drivers refuse a breath test, thinking that they cannot be charged without any evidence. This is wrong. You can still be charged and could even face enhanced penalties simply for refusing the test.
If the officers do not observe any signs of intoxication, they will wave you through the checkpoint to continue on your way.
Many drivers are not aware of the rights that they have at DUI checkpoints in Georgia or how to behave if they are stopped at one.
Do not avoid a checkpoint
It is natural and quite understandable to be nervous when you see you are approaching a DUI checkpoint. Do not turn around and try to avoid it.
Chances are, there is no way to avoid it. Additionally, the police officers will likely see you trying to avoid the checkpoint, which makes you look suspicious.
Do not volunteer information
Your anxiety could also cause you to talk to the officers more than you should. You should not say anything to the officers at all, aside from answering any questions.
These questions will likely be where you were coming from, where you are going and if you have had anything to drink. Answer the questions honestly, but do not provide any additional information.
This is harder than you might think. Our natural reaction in situations like this is to over-explain, thinking it will help the situation. It will not, and in some cases, could even make the situation worse, because your nervous rambling could be taken as a sign of dishonesty or guilt.
Have documentation ready
The police officers will also likely ask you for documentation, such as your driver’s license or vehicle registration, the same as at any other type of stop. Have this documentation ready, ideally before you get up to the checkpoint.
Be respectful and patient. No one is happy when they see a DUI checkpoint but remember the purpose of the checkpoints. They are designed to keep drivers like you safe on the roads.
However, there are times that driver’s rights at checkpoints are violated, and they are charged with a DUI. Evidence of a rights violation could be the basis for a dismissal of the charge.
An attorney experienced with DUI cases can evaluate your situation after a DUI charge at a checkpoint and determine if any of your rights were violated. They can also help you develop a strategy and craft an aggressive defense against the charge.