A DUI conviction, even a first offense, can cost thousands of dollars and seriously disrupt a person's life. Many people arrested for DUI are done so at a police or highway patrol checkpoint. A court case based on a checkpoint arrest can be far different from one based on a traffic stop, and the chances of conviction can be affected by the nature of the accusation.
A traffic stop involves probable cause and the officer pulling the driver over because that officer noticed some sort of driving behavior. In the case of a DUI, the officer may have noticed that the driver was weaving across the lane. Once this happens, the officer can detain the driver to investigate whether or not the driver is under the influence of alcohol or intoxicated. The officer can smell inside the vehicle for signs of alcohol or drug use. The officer will make an arrest if he or she determines that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If this case is brought to court, the prosecution will likely admit the police officer's testimony, police records of the incident, and any camera footage showing evidence of intoxication, which will can increase the likelihood of a conviction.
A DUI checkpoint stop differs from a traffic stop in that the officer does not have probable cause to stop the vehicle. Because of this fact, the officer may be limited on what is legally and constitutionally acceptable. A motorist should NEVER admit to having consumed alcohol. Upon being stopped, the officers will likely ask the motorist “How much have you had to drink this evening?” Motorists should understand that there is only one right answer to that question, “I have not been drinking, officer.” Admitting to have consumed any alcohol, even two beers, is an admission by the motorist of having broken the law. In many states, a motorist has a right to not answer any questions when being stopped without probable cause. Legal experts in New York have contested the notion that motorists have the right to remain silent when questioned at a DUI checkpoint. The police officers at the checkpoint will not discuss these rights because they would prefer the DUI suspect self-incriminate and make the prosecution's case solid.
If you find yourself at a checkpoint after consuming any amount of alcohol or drugs, your best defense is avoiding self-incrimination. Don’t refuse to answer the officer’s questions. However, there is no need to assist the officer in his or her investigation against you. Be courteous and do not argue with the officers. The officer may repeat these questions and use a bit of intimidation to get the evidence needed, so you must stay firm, calm, and respectful.
The logic in this case is simple; once the officer notices that you have any indication of having consumed an intoxicating substance, you will be arrested, and the prosecution will begin to build a case against you.
After your arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence, you should find a knowledgeable and skilled NYC DUI lawyer with whom to discuss your case. Let your lawyer know if you have admitted to any consumption of alcohol. With all the facts, your lawyer may gain an acquittal or even get your case dismissed before trial.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any further questions on the law and your rights concerning DUI checkpoint traffic stops.