Is an OUI checkpoint legal in Massachusetts?

| Dec 24, 2020 | OUI |

While driving home from a night out, you encounter an OUI checkpoint. You feel nervous about getting a charge of operating under the influence, especially since you had a few drinks earlier. 

Before encountering this situation, review the facts about OUI checkpoints in Massachusetts. 

Legal requirements

You must stop at an OUI checkpoint under Massachusetts law. The officer running the checkpoint can keep you for a reasonable amount of time to ask you questions. If the officer detains you for longer than expected, you may ask if you are free to go. He or she must either put you under arrest for suspicion of OUI or agree to let you leave. 

For a checkpoint to meet state and federal law, the officers must have a plan about which vehicles to stop. For example, they can either stop all cars or every third car, but not stop vehicles randomly or based on an officer’s discretion. The checkpoint must take place at an area with previous drunk driving accidents or arrests and the public must receive notice of the planned checkpoint. 

Protected rights

You have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle at an OUI checkpoint. If the officer asks to search your vehicle without probable cause (such as drug paraphernalia or alcohol containers in view), you can politely tell him or her that you do not consent. 

You can also refuse to take a breath test if asked to do so. However, the officer can still arrest you under suspicion of OUI and you may be subject to additional legal penalties for breath test refusal.