Picture this: You’re driving along after a night out with friends, ready to get home and head to bed. Suddenly, you see a road block set out up ahead with a police officer standing by. You’re asked to stop and to submit to a sobriety test. Is any of this legal?
Unfortunately, in the state of Maryland, there are no bans on DUI checkpoints as there are in several other states that have ruled them unconstitutional. Law enforcement agencies are permitted to set up a DUI checkpoint with the understanding that they are looking out for public safety and keeping dangerous drivers off of the road. But how successful are they in doing this, and do non-intoxicated drivers end up paying by having their right to privacy violated?
Maryland drivers are lucky in some respects when it comes to DUI checkpoints. While the state has ruled them legal, they have to adhere to strict guidelines in order to be considered legitimate.
- A DUI checkpoint must not be set up for any other reason than for the maintenance of public safety (i.e., they cannot be used to “catch” particular people, etc.).
- The checkpoint’s location must be made public knowledge before it is set up.
- There must be the opportunity for drivers to turn around and take an alternate route if they do not want to be stopped.
- DUI checkpoints must be operated in a non-discriminatory way.
- The checkpoint must be signed off by a high ranking official within the police department.
How Does the Evidence Collected at a DUI Checkpoint Affect My Case?
If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint and found to be under the influence of alcohol, the police officer who stopped you will proceed with an arrest as they would in a non-checkpoint scenario. They will record information vital to your case, including your blood alcohol level, the level of compliance with police orders you displayed, and the exact circumstances of your individual stop. It is entirely the police officers’ responsibility to collect and preserve this information in a legal and accurate way; otherwise, it must be thrown out altogether.
How Can I Determine that the DUI Checkpoint I Stopped at was Legal?
When evaluating your DUI case, your DUI attorney will carefully check into the checkpoint at which you were stopped and determine whether the officers adhered to the law there. Many consider the idea of a DUI checkpoint to be unfair and on the borderline of legality, so if there was any wrongdoing on the part of the police in your case, your DUI lawyer will find out.
Bruce Robinson & Associates
Bruce Robinson & Associates is a criminal defense law firm based in Baltimore, MD. If you have been accused of criminal actions and need to seek aggressive counsel, Robinson & Associates is here to help. For more information and to schedule your free consultation, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395 or visit us at www.marylandcriminallawyer.com.