The legality of DUI/DWI stops continue to be debated in the United States. The federal government has left it up to each state to decide whether or not they will allow DUI/DWI stops. Louisiana is one of the many states that has chosen to allow sobriety stops or checkpoints.
While a DUI/DWI stop technically violates your Fourth Amendment rights, the Supreme Court has allowed states to use them to protect citizens from drunk drivers and reduce drunk driving.
Whether you’ve been drinking or not, DUI/DWI stops can be intimidating and frightening. It’s important to know your rights during a DUI/DWI stop so you can make sure to act appropriately.
As for your rights during a sobriety stop, you are entitled to the same rights as you have during any other stop by a police officer.
A DWI or DUI stop is a temporary roadblock created by local law enforcement officers to help find drunk or impaired drivers. They are often set up during holidays and other times of the year where drunk driving is at its highest.
DWI/DUI stops are controversial because they allow police officers to randomly question and test individuals without reasonable suspicion. Drivers are randomly stopped and questioned about what they’re doing and where they’ve been. Officers take note of any suspicious activity during your interaction. They may ask for your driver’s license, registration, and/or insurance information.
It is standard for DWI/DUI stops to keep cars moving and not cause a major traffic jam, so only individuals who are deemed suspicious will be taken aside for further questioning and testing. This may include chemical testing, such as a breath test, blood test, or urine test, or it may include a field sobriety test.
The rights that each person has at a DUI/DWI stop are no different than being stopped by police for any other traffic violation. It is best to cooperate with the police and remain calm. Any resistance or suspicious activity early on will likely lead you into bigger trouble than you anticipated at the beginning of the process.
If a police officer decides to place you under arrest at a DUI/DWI stop, you will be given the Miranda warning, which informs you of your right to remain silent. It also informs you that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law, and you have the right to an attorney, no matter if you can afford one or not.
In addition to your rights stated in the Miranda warning, you also have the right to refuse a sobriety test at a random DUI/DWI stop. This also applies if you are pulled over for suspicion of a DUI or DWI, although there are consequences.
The right to remain silent is one that can be used in any situation with police, including at a temporary sobriety stop or roadblock. Your right to remain silent allows you to obtain legal representation before you speak since you know that what you say can and will be used against you in court.
During a DUI/DWI checkpoint, you also have a right to legal representation. If you already have a lawyer, you can call them. If you don’t have one and/or can’t afford one, you will be assigned a public defender.
If you are suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be asked to take a chemical sobriety test, such as a breathalyzer, or a field sobriety test. While the field sobriety test can be refused without reparation, there are punishments for refusing a chemical sobriety test.
You are legally allowed to refuse a chemical sobriety test, but under Louisiana’s implied consent law, you agree to take a chemical sobriety test anytime you are asked to while you are driving on public roads. When you refuse a chemical sobriety test, you face automatic license suspension, which can also be contested.
As an alternative to full refusal, you could ask to take it at the police station instead. This would save you the trouble of having your license taken away depending on the test’s result.
In addition to typical rights that you have during any DUI/DWI questioning, it’s important to remember your Fourth Amendment rights at DUI/DWI checkpoints. Since the legality of sobriety checkpoints is often in question, this can be used in your defense in the court of law if you end up being charged.
If you have any questions about DUI/DWI stops, or if you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI after being stopped at a random checkpoint, The Johnson Firm can help. We are here to fight for your rights and help you reduce or eliminate charges. You can trust our top team to get you the best results for your case.
Get your DUI/DWI consultation today by calling 337-427-8961 or send our team a message to get in touch today!