It’s common knowledge that law enforcement officials sometimes set up DUI checkpoints, particularly on popular party holidays like New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day. Usually located on major routes, these checkpoints allow officers to stop each car that goes by and check for any suspicious behavior that could indicate DUI. What many drivers don’t know, however, is that there is a loophole that could keep them from being charged.
Driving under the influence in most of the United States means operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher. At a DUI checkpoint, officers generally check for the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, or any other obvious indicator that a person may be driving drunk.
A new campaign by Fair DUI Flyer seeks to educate drivers of their rights — which, in regard to these checkpoints, means that motorists don’t have to roll down their windows or speak to officers.
The flyer reads “I remain silent; no searches; I want my lawyer,” according to WGNtv.com. When approaching a DUI checkpoint, drivers can apparently tape the flyer, their license, and their registration to the inside of their windows rather than speaking to officers.
St. Louis FOX affiliate KTVI reports that DUI checkpoints did become legal after a Supreme Court ruling in 1990, but the ruling doesn’t dictate what a driver is required to do when they are stopped at one.
“Even though the United States Supreme Court has ruled that DUI Checkpoints may not violate the Constitution, many States have determined that checkpoints are unconstitutional and are not allowed,” said Mark Greany, attorney at law for Gedulin and Greany Criminal Defense Attorneys. “Unfortunately, California allows checkpoints, provided that they are conducted in accordance with certain specific rules.”
The Fair DUI Flyer has gone viral on social media and could be used by a number of different drivers — from those who simply want to protect their rights, to those who are actually driving drunk.
“A good DUI attorney will know what rules the police need to follow, and can determine if a checkpoint has been set up and operated in violation of the rules,” said Greany. “If you have been arrested at a checkpoint you should ask an attorney to examine the procedures the police used during your arrest.”
What’s troubling about the flyer is that although it does educate drivers of their rights, the loophole could allow drunk drivers to make it through checkpoints unscathed. In the U.S. the average full cost of a DUI is $10,000. Other common consequences include license revocation and even jail time.