DUI Checkpoint Rights in Indiana

Regardless of who you are, if you see that you’re approaching a DUI checkpoint in Indiana, you’ll become anxious. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, you start to think of all the reasons why you could get in trouble. Maybe you forgot to renew your registration. Or you may have put off getting your driver’s license renewed, which can lead to serious consequences if asked for it at a DUI checkpoint.

Even worse, if you’ve had a few drinks before you got behind the wheel, you’ll start to panic like many drunk drivers do. What usually starts out as one or two drinks can easily turn into five or six. The minute you see the blue flashing lights ahead, you may want to turn right back around. Unfortunately, if you do this, you can still be stopped. If you are stopped and arrested for DUI, you need to take it seriously. So seriously, in fact, that you call a criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis right away.

DUI Checkpoint

DUI Checkpoints Are Legal in the State of Indiana

Much to many of our clients’ chagrin, it is perfectly legal for the police to set up a DUI checkpoint in Indiana. Of course, the police must notify the municipality that they intend to conduct a DUI checkpoint at a particular location. They also must post when and where the checkpoint will be so the public is well aware. This seems like it may defeat the purpose. However, very few people actively check to see if there are active DUI checkpoints before they head out for a night with friends.

As long as the police follow some very soft guidelines, there is nothing to stop them from conducting their DUI checkpoint in Indianapolis, Indiana. The United States Supreme Court has affirmed the legality of DUI checkpoints, provided they adhere to strict criteria for safety and legality standards. This means that DUI checkpoints are legal under both federal and state law, as long as specific protocols are followed. Some of these guidelines include the following:

  • The officers must move quickly from car to car
  • There must be a consistent pattern of how they select cars to stop
  • The police are only allowed to ask for certain information during the stop
  • The officers must refrain from engaging in any sort of profiling

Keep in mind – even if the police honor every requirement set forth by the state, that doesn’t mean they can’t arrest you. They can ask you to perform a field sobriety test (FST) or submit to a chemical test such as a breathalyzer. It is crucial that the encounter does not violate your rights under federal or state law, as this could lead to the dismissal of the arrest.

Purpose and Legality

DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, are stationary roadblocks set up by law enforcement agencies to identify and deter drivers who may be operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Indiana, these checkpoints are conducted with the goal of improving public safety by reducing impaired driving incidents. Police checkpoints in Indiana are designed to ensure that drivers comply with state laws and to identify any potential violations.

The legality of DUI checkpoints in Indiana has been established by both federal and state courts, provided they adhere to specific guidelines to ensure fairness and constitutional compliance. These police checkpoints must follow strict protocols to be considered legal and effective.

What Are You Required to Do if You’re Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint?

If you’re stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Indiana, there are certain things you need to do. First, you have to stop. If you take off or are caught turning around, you’ll be stopped for sure. Second, if you are stopped, you must provide the officer with relevant identification. For example, the cops have every right to ask to see your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information.

It’s also important that you are respectful during the stop. Even if you’re anxious or upset, you can’t take it out on the police officer. Not only do they have a right to stop you, but you also don’t want to get them on your bad side. It may not seem fair, but if you’re rude to the officer, they won’t use their discretion (when possible) to help you.

While you do have to provide the officer with the required documents, you don’t have to answer any of their questions. For example, if they ask you where you’ve been or how many drinks you’ve had, you can politely decline to answer. The same is true for submitting to the FST or breathalyzer test.

Public Awareness and Transparency

Indiana law enforcement agencies prioritize transparency and public awareness when conducting DUI checkpoints. Announcing checkpoints in advance allows motorists to plan alternative routes if desired and reinforces the checkpoint’s purpose as a deterrent to impaired driving. Publicizing the outcomes of checkpoints, such as the number of drivers tested and citations issued, promotes accountability and demonstrates the effectiveness of these enforcement efforts in enhancing road safety.

You Still Have the Right to Remain Silent

As with any other arrest or detainment by the police, you have the right to remain silent. The police won’t read you your Miranda rights until you are being arrested. However, when the police start to ask you about your whereabouts, you can invoke this right. Respectfully tell the officer that you choose to protect yourself under the Miranda warning. You don’t have to tell them anything other than your name.

Of course, you should know that, by invoking the right to remain silent, you’re going to make the police officers upset. If they have a scintilla of evidence showing that you may be impaired, refusing to talk to them may cause them to be more likely to arrest you. However, if you feel no good can come from answering their battery of questions, you have every right to remain silent.

You Also Have the Right to Refuse the Breathalyzer Test

Most drivers understand that they have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. However, just as our criminal defense attorneys in Indianapolis warn our clients, this can come back to haunt you. Refusing a breathalyzer test means that your blood alcohol content (BAC) cannot be measured on the spot. The legal BAC limit in Indiana is 0.08%, and even a lower BAC can lead to charges if there is evidence of impairment, reckless driving, or intoxication.

While the officer cannot mention your refusal to take the test in court, that doesn’t mean your refusal won’t hurt you. The big consideration is that anyone who refuses to take the breathalyzer test will have their license suspended for one year. This happens automatically upon refusing to take the test. The officer conducting the DUI checkpoint will confiscate your physical license right there and then.

You Can Refuse to Perform the Field Sobriety Test if You So Choose

Just as you have the right to refuse the breathalyzer test, you also have the right to refuse to perform the FST. Sobriety checkpoints are controlled stops conducted by law enforcement to determine if drivers are impaired, and you have legal rights when encountering these checkpoints. Again, the cops cannot use this against you in court. But it does make their job easier. They are allowed to deduce that the reason you refused the test is because you’ve had too much to drink.

The truth is that, if you don’t think you can pass the FST, it can only hurt you to take the test. Any consequences of refusing the test are probably better than the consequences for being charged and convicted of DUI.

Refusal Rights and Consequences at Sobriety Checkpoints

In Indiana, drivers have the right to refuse to cooperate with a DUI checkpoint. However, refusing to stop or attempting to evade a checkpoint can result in serious legal consequences, including criminal charges and potential arrest.

Additionally, such actions may be considered a criminal offense, especially if law enforcement suspects other illegal activities, such as drugs or undocumented immigrants. It is important to note that while drivers have the right to refuse questioning or consent to a search without probable cause, the legality of refusing to cooperate at a DUI checkpoint is more complex.

Consequences of Refusal

If a driver refuses to comply with lawful instructions at a DUI checkpoint, law enforcement officers may detain the driver for further investigation. Often, these checkpoints involve the use of a temporary roadblock, where cars are diverted through a barrier supervised by local law enforcement officers to stop and inspect specific drivers and vehicles.

This can lead to charges of obstruction of justice, resisting law enforcement, or other related offenses. Refusal to participate in sobriety testing, such as breathalyzer or field sobriety tests, can also result in immediate administrative penalties, such as license suspension, under Indiana’s implied consent law.

Legal Rights and Defense

Drivers stopped at DUI checkpoints in Indiana have the right to legal representation if detained or arrested. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help drivers understand their rights, assess potential defenses, and navigate the legal consequences of refusing to cooperate at a checkpoint. Effective defense strategies may include challenging the legality of the checkpoint, the conduct of law enforcement officers, or the accuracy of testing procedures.

It is important to note that DUI checkpoints are legal, as the United States Supreme Court has ruled that sobriety checkpoints do not violate constitutional rights, provided that law enforcement follows strict criteria to ensure legality and safety.

DUI Checkpoint Lawyer

If You Are Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint, You’ll Need the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in Indianapolis

We recommend that, if you’ve been arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Indianapolis, you call our office. If you can call from the jail, that would be best. You’ll have to make your first appearance in front of the judge rather quickly. It’s best to have one of the best DUI defense lawyers in Indianapolis there when you do this. They can help you understand the defense strategies against drunk driving charges and challenge the evidence presented.

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With over 25 years of experience, Rathburn Law is your ideal choice. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, Reach out to us today!