Just about everyone knows that drunk driving is against the law in South Carolina. What some people might not realize is that this state uses a multifaceted approach to help stop drunk drivers in their tracks. The police tactics are often the ones that get drunk drivers off the roads, while the judicial system works to issue punishments and to keep drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again.
The use of sobriety checkpoints is one tactic that police in this state can utilize. These checkpoints must include a systemic approach to stopping vehicles to check drivers. For example, police officers might choose to stop every fourth vehicle that comes through the checkpoint.
If there isn’t any pattern to how vehicles are stopped, the checkpoint might not be legal. Another issue that many people don’t realize is that drivers do have rights at these checkpoints. For example, they can’t search your vehicle without your consent unless they have probable cause.
What they can do at these checkpoints is ask that you take a test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if they feel you have been drinking alcohol. In this case, they wouldn’t need probable cause to ask you to take the test. Instead, they need to have reasonable suspicion to ask for the test.
Reasonable suspicion means that there are signs that would lead a reasonable person to think you were driving drunk. The smell of alcohol and unsafe driving are some factors that might lead to reasonable suspicion for this. In fact, an officer who has reasonable suspicion that you’ve been drinking can stop you even without there having to be a sobriety checkpoint in the area.
All of these points are very important if you are arrested for drunk driving, so make sure that you take the time to think carefully about what happened. You might be able to find points to use in your defense as you review the facts.
Source: FindLaw, “What is Reasonable Suspicion for a DUI Stop?,” accessed Oct. 08, 2017