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What to expect at a DUI checkpoint

If you live in or around the Boston area, you know that DUI checkpoints have a way of popping up every now and again.

As nerve-wracking as it can be to drive through one of these, especially if you have been drinking, knowledge of what will happen can go a long way in keeping you safe and allowing you to pass through unscathed.

Before we go any further, remember this: There is no guaranteed way of knowing what will happen at a DUI checkpoint. While these are pretty much the same in regard to set up and approach, a lot of what happens is based on the officers on the scene, the vehicles around you and your behavior.

Here are some things you need to know:

  • As you approach a DUI checkpoint, slow down and get in line. At that point, all you have to do is follow the instructions of the officer on the scene.
  • You are not required to pass through a DUI checkpoint. It may look suspicious to turn your vehicle around, to avoid the checkpoint, but it's your legal right to do so. Officers do have the right to stop your vehicle if you break the law when turning around, so make sure you're careful about the approach you take.
  • You may have to talk to an officer. There's a good chance an officer will approach your windows, ask a few questions, and maybe even peak inside your vehicle to see if there is anything suspicious. If they note any sign of drinking, this is where a field sobriety test typically comes into play. If you refuse a field sobriety test at a checkpoint, the same consequences would apply as any DUI stop.
  • The officer may also perform a visual search of the interior of your car while talking to you, but he or she cannot otherwise search your vehicle without good reason (such as an open container of alcohol).

It may not sound fair to you, but there is nothing illegal about a DUI checkpoint. Police have the right to set these up, all with the idea of cracking down on as many drunk drivers as possible.

Knowing your legal rights as you go through a DUI checkpoint, as well as if you are put under arrest, can go a long way in helping you avoid trouble and/or prevent the most serious penalty.

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