man holding breathalyzer device

When driving, you may be frustrated that you’re coming to a complete stop. However, as you get closer, you notice that there are officers set up on the road talking to each driver who passes by. These sobriety checkpoints are not uncommon in Georgia, so understanding what they are and how they work is critical. If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint and charged with driving under the influence, you may think these charges won’t hold up in court. You’ll want to keep reading to learn how a Cobb County DUI lawyer can help defend you if this reflects your circumstances.

What Are Sobriety Checkpoints?

Sobriety checkpoints are essentially where the police set up stops in the middle of the road, and each driver who passes by must stop. The police will speak to the driver, looking for signs of intoxication. This includes slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, and open containers in the vehicle. If an officer suspects a driver is under the influence, they will ask them to exit the vehicle to conduct a chemical or field sobriety test. This determines the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of the driver. If the driver has a BAC of 0.08% or higher or has alcohol in their system that the officer determines has impacted their ability to operate a vehicle, they will be arrested for driving under the influence.

Are These Legal?

Though some states, like Texas, have deemed the use of sobriety checkpoints illegal, this is not the case in Georgia. Many assume that these violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, when conducted correctly, these stops do not break laws or violate constitutional rights. However, it must be stressed that these checkpoints must follow strict regulations to ensure they remain legal.

Generally, as long as all vehicles are stopped, the delay to drivers is minimal, and the officers conducting the stop have the necessary experience to accurately screen the passing drivers, the stop is constitutional. Additionally, the stop must be implemented by a supervisory officer with the authority to order a sobriety checkpoint.

What Should I Do if Stopped at a Checkpoint?

If stopped at a checkpoint, it’s essential to understand your rights. Generally, if you see the checkpoint ahead, you can make legal turns to avoid it. However, you should not make illegal turns to avoid going through the checkpoint, as this can warrant the police to pull you over for traffic violations.

Additionally, if the police ask you to step out of the vehicle, you must comply with that order. If asked to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, you do not have to participate unless you are under arrest. However, refusal to take these tests can result in an automatic license suspension.

If placed under arrest for driving under the influence, it’s essential to understand how to proceed. You should not, under any circumstances, refuse to cooperate with the police. This can result in additional charges. Similarly, you should not say anything. When arrested, anything you say can be held against you in court. As such, it’s in your best interest to inform the officers that you would like an attorney and then invoke your right to remain silent.

However, the most important thing to do is consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many assume that fighting a DUI isn’t worth the hassle. Our team at the Miller Law Practice thinks differently. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.