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DUI Checkpoint Laws in Maryland

Here is a DUI checkpoint video that a friend sent me.  This young fellow knew his rights and took it to the cops, which requires a tremendous amount of backbone because the self-anointed almighty police do not like to be tested or challenged.  This young man, however was learned in the ways of the law and not only tested the cops, but video recorded it as well.

So here is the Maryland law as you approach a DUI checkpoint:

1.     As you approach a checkpoint you have the legal right to turn around and go the other way if you can do so within traffic laws.  There is no obligation that you go through such a checkpoint.  Now, when the cops see you make a U-turn or go down a side street they may attempt to follow you and observe your driving, but you are allowed to change direction in the face of this alcohol nonsense.


2.     As you approach a checkpoint the government is required to place signs up so you will know what is going on and to lessen trepidation as you approach the cops.  These damn stops are reminiscent of WWII Germany where you get stopped for no reason and are asked for your papers; unfortunately, our government has seen fit to condone this behavior in the name of DUI detection.  The degree to which the Constitution is trampled upon to uphold these stops is freaking scary, but the government has seen fit to limit and or completely erode our rights in lieu of this witch hunt for the intoxicated driver.


3.     The young man was right about his window.  He rolled down his window enough to have a communication with the officer.  The cop, of course, wanted the window down more so he could smell and observe more, but the young man had no obligation to roll the window down more.  In fact, he could speak through a closed window if he wanted to.  The problem with that, while not a legal problem, is that the cops will go nuts over that and likely force you over to the side of the road to play their games. Interestingly, while the cops cannot order you to roll your window down further, they CAN order you out of the car for “officer safety,” so ultimately, they get what they want.  Getting you out of your car, however, would be dependent on a valid stop in the first place.  Having said that, knowledgeable cops know the proper buzzwords to toss in their reports to engineer “reasonable suspicion.”


4.     The young man was absolutely right to inquire if he was being detained before doing anything. This is important because this is the evaluation the judge will make at trial.  If the Defendant was being “detained” by the police (which he was) there must be some “reasonable suspicion” by the police, or the stop is bad and so is any evidence stemming thereof.  The mere fact that the Defendant does not desire to play the stupid cop games does not form the basis of reasonable suspicion.  Even the cops knew that in the video when they remarked that he knows his rights.


5.     After directing the young man to pull his car over, in the absence of any reasonable suspicion, they now desire to engineer some suspicion, so they bring in the old drug-sniffing pooch.  If the pooch had alerted them to something, then they have reasonable suspicion and can proceed from that point with a search of the car.  Unfortunately as the kid points out in the video, the dog scratches the crap out of the kid’s car only to find nothing at all!  Noting also in the video that deputy doughnut decided to search the kids car anyway, the cops in this case engineered a dog alert when there was none; even they cops said that on the video before finding the camera and turning it off.


6.     Importantly, the cops asked the kid if they could search his car, if he [or you] say, “yes, you may,” then it’s on; you have given permission and anything they find is valid evidence, notwithstanding the legality of the initial detention itself.  Conversely, if one exercises their rights, as one should and says, “no freaking way you’re searching my car,” then it stops there, unless the dog alerts to something. If the dog does alert, or the cops make the alert up (yes that happens) then the game is back on.


7.     The video in this case is shut off and the young man does not indicate what happened but I would guess they found nothing at all and the kid evidently was not drinking, so Billy-Jo-Bob in this video probably let him go, but not before berating him and scratching the crap out of his car for no reason.  I am glad this young man made this video to bring to light how some cops treat their jobs and treat members of the public; it takes real gall to do this because the police will go to some length to enforce their authority, like arresting him for no reason and letting the courts sort it out.  For the rest of us, if you have zero to hide, sometimes it is easier to work with them; admittedly though, that does not help keep the cops in line.  Kudos to the young man.


8.     Nobody condones drinking and driving. It is dangerous business, but like all matters of criminal law, the motoring public has legal rights; those rights must be protected for the safety of the community against a tyrannical government.  The minute you let government erode and trample these rights, that is the moment you lose the freedom that is guaranteed to all of us in the Constitution.  These rights are far more important because they affect all of us.  Remember, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.  The needs of the many are our guaranteed rights; don’t be so eager to give them up in the name of DUI detection.

Robinson & Associates, located in Baltimore, Maryland is a premiere criminal defense law firm practicing for over 20 years.  With a former state’s attorney and former public defender, they have the necessary resources and experience to help resolve your situation quickly and successfully while supporting you throughout this difficult time.

To learn more about our blog, DUI Checkpoint Laws in Maryland or to schedule your free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.


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