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Holiday DUI Checkpoints - Can You Turn Around to Avoid Them?

Richard S. Lundin
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Personal injury and family law attorney licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia

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12/19/2018
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Tis the season for holiday parties and holiday DUI check points.
 
DUI checkpoints are deemed “seizures” under the Fourth Amendment, but they’re not unconstitutional.  The roadblock must be highly visible to ensure time for stopping, the police can't choose vehicles at random, the interaction with the officer must be brief (20-30 seconds) and the roadblock must be part of a planned safety program.
 

What if you're driving home and see a DUI checkpoint up ahead and don’t want to go through it.  Do you have the legal right to turn around or turn off to avoid going through the DUI roadblock?  The answer is "Yes."  

 

However, you can’t break any traffic laws in turning off onto a side street or making a U-turn to avoid it.

 

Turn onto a side street if possible, because you’re less likely to break a traffic law or arouse the suspicious attention of a police officer.

 

If you have to make a U-turn, do so carefully and lawfully.  Start your U-turn from as close to the center dividing lines as possible.  Keep in mind that the traffic law prohibits U-turns on curves or when driving uphill or at the top of the hill if other drivers can’t see you from 500 feet away (a little more than one and a half football fields).

 

If you can, it’s best to make U-turns on flat, straight roadways.

 

And of course, if you’re going to be drinking, don’t drive!  An Uber, Lyft, taxi or hotel room is much safer and cheaper that getting arrested for DUI.

 

Dedicated to protecting and advancing your legal rights,

 



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