With Halloween upon us in just a few short weeks, it’s not only time to pick out your costume, but to educate yourself on drinking and driving. Yes, you probably know not to do it, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to do it. Since the holidays are coming up there will be more parties to attend and thus, you’ll be more likely to overindulge in beverages that might inhibit your common sense. As we descend into the fall and the holiday season, you’ll find that there are often DUI checkpoints to ensure everyone is sober while driving. Living in the Fort Collins area there is an abundance of options to eliminate you from driving and drinking. Despite the fact you have access to apps on avoiding drinking and driving when you aren’t in your right mind, you might think it’s easier to just put the key in the ignition and drive off. Additionally, you might think you are fine to operate a vehicle when in reality, you’ve had one too many. As a DUI attorney, we strongly encourage you to take a safe route home instead of driving after drinking too much, especially as the weather begins to get colder and the streets slicker.
In today’s blog from Roselle & Breitigam, P.C., we’ll be going over DUI checkpoints and what you should know about them. The holidays bring cold weather, memorable moments with family, and heart-warming gifts. The holidays also bring many opportunities to go to parties where drinking takes place, especially around Christmas and New York Eve. The authorities know that there will probably be drinking during this time, which is why there’s more of an opportunity to be stopped by a DUI checkpoint. As a DUI attorney, we want you to know the basics of what to expect with a DUI checkpoint and how to conduct yourself if you’re ever in this position, regardless of whether you’re in Northern Colorado or somewhere else in the country.
WHAT IS A DUI CHECKPOINT?
A DUI checkpoint is a traffic checkpoint that the authorities set up. The police will check to see if the drivers are intoxicated. Police tend to set up checkpoints to check drivers for intoxication in areas that may have a lot of drinking such as around colleges. Once the police have checked to see if you are intoxicated, then you are either allowed to drive on if you’re not drunk or you’ll be booked on a DUI charge if you are over the legal limit.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF DUI CHECKPOINTS?
The purpose of receiving a DUI is to ensure you don’t do it again. When you are given a DUI or a DWAI, you have to go through a variety of legal obstacles to obtain your license back. They will also stay on your record until you get it expunged. The purpose of DUI checkpoints are for official and unofficial reasons. For example, there are DUI checkpoints to control drunk driving. As we mentioned above, police can set up checkpoints around the college to ensure that people driving aren’t under the influence. On days around Christmas, New Years', Halloween, July 4th, Memorial Day, and other holidays where there’s heavy drinking, which turns into drunk driving, the police want to halt any risks in their tracks before a drunk driver causes an accident. Drunk driving poses risks to other drivers on the road as well as to themselves. To ensure the public is safe, the police will set up these DUI checkpoints to check on the drivers leaving the area to ensure they aren’t drunk. Furthermore, the fear of DUI checkpoints can also lead people to avoid drinking and driving so they aren’t charged with anything.
Another reason that DUI checkpoints are set up is when there are a lot of people who are driving with missing number plates, expired licenses, or who have a number of other vehicle-related issues that can cause a penalty. Police are unable to ask people to pull over unless there’s something suspicious going on. Basically, DUI checkpoints give the authorities the ability to pull a vehicle over for a valid reason that doesn’t have to be connected with suspicious behavior. They can just pull a car over because it’s a DUI checkpoint.
CONDUCTING YOURSELF GOING THROUGH A DUI CHECKPOINT
When you are pulled over for a DUI checkpoint, to remain charge-free it’s essential that you conduct yourself in a certain manner. A police officer has to do a few things at a DUI checkpoint such as identifying themselves and marking the DUI checkpoint. If a police officer hasn’t identified themselves or the DUI checkpoint isn’t marked, then be aware of your surroundings and even call 911 to make sure it’s not a fake DUI checkpoint that someone set up. A police officer has to be wearing their uniform, safety gear, badge, and a reflective vest, especially during nighttime hours. The DUI checkpoint has to have proper lighting, patrol cards that are marked, proper protocol, and signage to let you know what is going on. When it comes to what you need to do at a DUI checkpoint, we supplied some information from before the DUI to after.
BEFORE YOU GO INTO THE CHECKPOINT
Before you pull over at the DUI checkpoint, make sure there’s a safe spot to stop. When an officer stops you, you want to make sure it’s in a safe area as well as the police officer is actually an officer. Once you pull over, make sure that you use your turn signals and that you don’t make a sudden movement with your vehicle or inside your vehicle. When you pull over, make sure you move far enough away that the officer isn’t clipped by cars driving by.
AFTER YOU PULLOVER
Once you’ve moved the car over to the side of the road, turn off your engine, so you aren’t a flight risk. If it’s nighttime, then turn the lights on in the vehicle and don’t rummage for your license and registration until the officer asks you for them. You don’t want the officer to think you are reaching for a weapon if you begin to rummage. Keep in mind that the officer is aware of how dangerous it is to approach a vehicle at traffic stops, which is why they might perceive looking through your car as a threat. The best way to avoid angering the officer is to keep your hands on the wheel until told otherwise.
WHILE SPEAKING TO THE OFFICER
Once you’ve pulled over, make sure to stay in your car unless told otherwise. When you talk to the police offer, act respectful, calm, polite, and answer the questions truthfully. If the officer seems a little abrasive, then try not to be agitated or antagonize him or her. Even though you may be pulled over by a rude officer, unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with your pride so you don’t anger the officer and get arrested. If they are being rude and unruly, then you can always ask their name or look at their badge to remember who you were speaking with. Keep in mind police officers have cameras in their car to get the whole situation on video, so if the officer was rude and you were unhappy with how you were treated there is evidence. Once they have given you permission to move on, put on your turn signal and move back into traffic.
If you’ve found yourself charged with a DUI, then contact a DUI attorney from Roselle & Breitigam, P.C.