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Can you turn around if you encounter a sobriety checkpoint?

People get arrested every day in South Carolina for drunk driving offenses. Some of them get stopped individually by police officers due to erratic driving. Others cause crashes, either with other vehicles or just involving their own car.   

However, some impaired driving charges in South Carolina are the results of sobriety checkpoints. Also known as drunk driving roadblocks, these checkpoints require that all vehicles traveling past the checkpoint stop for a brief interaction and screening with law enforcement officers.  

Sobriety checkpoints are legal under both federal and South Carolina state law, provided that the officers conducting them follow certain rules. Do you have to drive through a sobriety checkpoint if you see one ahead of you? 

You can always perform a legal traffic maneuver 

Enforcement checkpoints affect those who want to pass through them, but the police officers conducting the sobriety checkpoint can’t dictate the route you drive. If you notice the sobriety checkpoint before you find yourself stop in a line of vehicles, it is not illegal to turn down another road or otherwise complete legal driving maneuvers to change your trajectory and avoid the checkpoint.  

While you may not want to perform an aggressive or unsafe turn right in front of South Carolina police officers, if there is an opportunity to turn or turn around, there is nothing inherently illegal about making use of that opportunity. You may even have the right to perform a U-turn if there are no signs nearby prohibiting such a maneuver.  

Driving away could lead to a traffic stop 

Still, driving away from a sobriety checkpoint doesn’t mean the danger is over. The police could stop you individually after you turn around and head another way. One of the major drawbacks of avoiding a sobriety checkpoint is that it might draw the attention of the police officers performing it.  

They may reach out to another officer nearby and request that they look for you and pull you over if they spot you. You could face more intense scrutiny in a one-on-one traffic stopped after avoiding a checkpoint and then you would if you simply continue to drive through it.  

Understanding your rights when faced with drunk driving enforcement efforts in South Carolina can help you avoid getting into trouble.  

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