It’s the season for holiday parties, and that means holiday DUI check points.
DUI checkpoints are warrantless seizures under the Fourth Amendment, and although brief, they deprive you of your liberty and invade your privacy. Nonetheless, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they’re constitutional, provided the roadblock is highly visible to ensure time for stopping, the police don’t pick and choose vehicles at random, the interaction with the officer is brief (20-30 seconds) and the roadblock is part of a planned safety program.
So, whether or not you’ve had anything to drink, 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. You can turn around or turn off to avoid it.
However, you can’t break any traffic laws in doing so.
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. Keep in mind that Maryland 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’ve been drinking, use Uber, Lyft, a taxi or hotel room -- each of these options is much safer and cheaper that getting arrested for DUI.
Dedicated to protecting and advancing your legal rights,