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DUI checkpoints in Baltimore and your rights

Maryland is one of 38 states, plus the District of Columbia, that let police departments set up DUI checkpoints. Authorities say these police roadblocks help catch impaired drivers in the act before they can cause a car accident. Critics say that checkpoints violate the law requiring that police have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a driver is committing a crime (or has committed a crime) before they can detain that driver.

You still have rights at a DUI checkpoint

They may be controversial, but DUI checkpoints are regular sights here in the Baltimore area, especially around holidays. If you are on the road in the next few weeks and see a checkpoint up ahead, you should be aware of your rights.

  • In general, if you see the checkpoint setup ahead of you, changing your route to avoid it is not itself justification for pulling you over, as long as you don’t violate any traffic laws to do so.
  • As with any traffic stop, you are required to provide the officer with your driver’s license and other documentation when requested. But you do not have to answer any questions if you do not want to, including whether you have had anything to drink.
  • You also do not have to comply if the officer orders you to perform field sobriety tests or take a roadside breath test if you have not been arrested. If the officer arrests you, however, you must submit to a breath or blood test if the officer orders one.
  • If you are arrested, you have the right to receive a Miranda warning advising you of your constitutional rights. This does not apply just for being stopped at the checkpoint, however.

An arrest at a DUI checkpoint does not automatically mean you will be convicted of drinking and driving. Talk over your options with your defense attorney.