The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. A DUI checkpoint is considered a seizure and law enforcement must be sure to follow specific rules and meet state requirements for conducting checkpoints.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints. In South Carolina law enforcement must follow specific rules for how they must be set up and conducted. Checkpoints may be used to check for license, registration, insurance, or impaired drivers. Where and when they are set up and how they are conducted must follow South Carolina’s statewide requirements.
When Is The Right Time?
Setting up a DUI checkpoint in Charleston, South Carolina is not something that can be done on a whim. Law enforcement must determine that there is a specific need for the checkpoint and be prepared to explain that need. Validating the need for a checkpoint must be done by a supervisor before the supervisor approves the checkpoint. The placement and way that the checkpoint is to be conducted must be approved by the supervisor as well. When approval is received for the checkpoint, law enforcement is required to publicize the date and location of the checkpoint.
Conducting a Checkpoint
A supervising officer in uniform must be present at all times to oversee the checkpoint. Checkpoints must be safe and easily identifiable. There should be signs or some indication there is a checkpoint giving the driver plenty of time to stop. There should be proper lighting and all vehicles should be official, marked cars driven by uniformed officers. Cars that are stopped should be chosen in a predictable pattern not at random. The stop should as brief as possible and should an arrest occur, the prosecution must be able to provide proof that the checkpoint “served the public’s interest.” Often the uncovered violations serve as proof.
What Drivers Should Know?
Drivers should remain calm and be cooperative. Complying with an officer’s request to roll down the window and answering their questions are not required but failure to do so can be seen as suspicious and can lead to further detainment. Officers can ask for proof of license, registration, or insurance, they should not ask questions about where the driver has been or if they have been drinking. These questions are leading and can result in the driver incriminating themselves. The driver can exercise their right to remain silent, the choice to remain silent can also be viewed as uncooperative behavior and may result in the request to complete field sobriety tests. Drivers have a right to decline the field sobriety tests, this could lead to an arrest for DUI, but it leaves law enforcement with no proof to present in court.
If you were arrested for a DUI at a checkpoint in North Charleston, South Carolina, you should contact Duffy Law Firm for a consultation. Contact us
For more information about what options, you have after being arrested at a DUI checkpoint read Should I Fight My DUI Charge In North Charleston.