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Interacting with police at a DUI checkpoint

When approaching a drunk driving checkpoint, virtually all South Carolina residents will feel an increase in their level of stress. This can be true even in cases where a driver has not been drinking at all, and has no reason to feel tense. For those who have consumed a reasonable amount of alcohol and waited a safe amount of time before getting behind the wheel, the anxiety experienced can be significant. One attorney in a southern state has made a public suggestion that drivers do not have to speak with police officers who are manning a DUI checkpoint, and discusses why this may be a wise course of action.

The article points out that individuals stopped at a DUI checkpoint are well within their constitutional rights to refuse to speak with officers manning the operation. It is asserted that the only course of action required is for the driver to make his or her license visible to the officer, and provide a statement that they have "no comment." This can be accomplished by means of a written statement, and some drivers are carrying printed versions within their vehicle in case the need arises.

It is asserted that a large number of people are wrongfully arrested for drunk driving. In some cases, individuals agree to submit to a breathalyzer test and pass, only to be arrested anyway and charged with DUI. All it takes is a statement by an officer that he or she smelled alcohol or witnessed slurred speech on the part of the driver, and an arrest can follow. The article makes the assertion that by refusing to roll down the window and interact with officers, individuals are simply asserting their right to not be questioned without having an attorney present.

As to what actions will occur for drivers who attempt this tactic, the answer varies. Many within law enforcement state that such actions would only lead to additional scrutiny by officers manning a DUI checkpoint. However, for South Carolina drivers who are certain that they are not driving while under the influence, and who are afraid of being unjustly charged, it is an option that might be worth exploring.

Source: bustle.com, "Drivers At DUI Checkpoints Don't Need To Speak To Police, Says Florida Lawyer, But It Sure Looks Suspicious", Melanie Schmitz, Feb. 11, 2015

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