Arizona is known for its tough DUI laws, so it’s no surprise that DUI checkpoints pop up throughout the state on a regular basis. As intimidating and frustrating as getting caught up in a checkpoint can be, it’s important to realize that DUI checkpoints are upheld under the federal constitution, so you will need to stay calm and be cordial. Just because you’re being cordial, though, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know your rights and be prepared to protect yourself. Here are a few suggestions to help you stay calm and to be smart as you navigate an Arizona DUI checkpoint.
Know Before You Go
The best way to avoid the panic of a DUI checkpoint is to do a little research before heading out for the night. Pay attention to the news and social media to learn when and where checkpoints will be set up in your area. Be aware of the fact that checkpoints are more likely during holidays, special events, or on weekends. By preparing in advance, you can avoid roadblocks wherever possible and make better decisions throughout your evening.
Have your Paperwork Handy
If stopped at a DUI checkpoint, an Arizona police officer may ask to see your driver license, registration, or proof of auto insurance. To avoid stress, it’s wise to make sure that your paperwork is always inside your vehicle, stored in a safe place that can be easily accessed upon request.
Know Who and What’s In Your Car
As a licensed driver, you’re responsible for who and what may be found inside your automobile during a traffic stop like a DUI checkpoint. Make sure that there aren’t any open alcohol containers in any part of your vehicle and never allow illegal drugs or paraphernalia inside your car or truck. If certain medications are needed, make sure that the proper prescriptions and documents are in order upon request. Avoid driving with passengers who are under the influence of illegal drugs, as this can raise suspicions with the police.
When stopped at a DUI checkpoint, it’s smart to avoid supplying any more information than you absolutely have to. In the event that the officer asks a question to which you believe an answer may put you at risk, remember that you have the legal right to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination. Plus, you have the right of refusal to perform field sobriety tests unless the officer has a warrant or probable cause. Always remain polite and respectful – even when you choose to decline to follow a request. And, of course, you can ask that an attorney like Schill Law Group be present at any time if you feel that the situation is taking a turn for the worse.
Although a DUI checkpoint may be annoying, it’s wise to remember that these stops aren’t intended to inconvenience you. Instead, checkpoints exist in an effort to discover people who are breaking the law and, ultimately, to keep you and your loved ones safe. With this in mind, remember to be courteous and respectful to the police. Calmly declining to meet a request with your civil rights in mind is much different than being hostile and argumentative, and any signs of aggression could be met with suspicion and further consequences.
There’s no reason why you should let an Arizona DUI checkpoint get the better of you. Taking the time to understand what to expect and to learn how to handle yourself at a checkpoint will empower you to stay safe and calm.