Police can legally operate sobriety checkpoints in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but their right to stop and search a driver is not unlimited. Instead, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects drivers from unreasonable search and seizure and gives drivers certain rights at sobriety checkpoints.
What Police Can and Cannot Do at a Sobriety Checkpoint
The police must publicize a sobriety checkpoint before operating it. This information may be found on the police department’s website and usually in the local newspaper. At this checkpoint, the police can’t do the following:
- Stop every vehicle that goes through the checkpoint. Instead, police may stop vehicles according to a predetermined pattern such as every third or fifth car. Of course, this does not prevent the police from pulling you over if they have reasonable cause to believe that you have violated the law.
- Insist that you take a BAC test or field sobriety test simply because you drove through the checkpoint. However, the police may require one or more of these tests if they reasonably believe you are intoxicated.
- Require you to answer questions about where you are traveling from or what you were doing prior to being pulled over. While you should always be polite to the police and provide your license and insurance information, you do not have to answer questions that may be self-incriminating.
While you may not be able to prevent being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, you can control what happens after the police stop your car.
Protect Your Rights at a Virginia DUI Checkpoint
Understanding what the police can and cannot do is the first step in protecting your rights at a sobriety checkpoint. However, if you are arrested for drunk driving in Virginia, you need to take further action. You need to contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer quickly for help getting the charges against you possibly reduced or dismissed.
The criminal penalties for drunk driving in Virginia can be significant. Call us, or contact us via this website for a free, no-obligation consultation about your rights, so you can protect your future.