The internet is abuzz over a video of a man who touts a way to avoid being stopped at a DUI checkpoint. And while the tactic is being used in other states, the basis for the technique rests in all of our constitutional rights. The question is whether using the idea actually can help you avoid being stopped at a DUI checkpoint, and whether you actually have a legal right to use it.
The Purpose and Motive Behind Avoiding a Checkpoint
The New York and Florida attorney that devised the idea isn’t advocating driving drunk. Nor does he believe that people who legitimately are over the legally prescribed limit of their state should be able to avoid punishment.
Rather, the concern rests with officers using anything they may see or smell during the checkpoint to lead to further investigation into other activities, and thus, to arrest.
An example would be stopping you for a routine DUI check, smelling marijuana, searching your trunk, and arresting you for drug possession. There would have been no probable cause to look in the trunk had the officer not smelled anything, and he wouldn’t have smelled anything if he didn’t stop you for a routine DUI checkpoint. There was never any probable cause for drug possession.
Viral Video Shows How to (Possibly) Do It
To avoid these kinds of scenarios, one Florida man, counseled by his New York and Florida attorney, taped himself going through a checkpoint with a sign on his window that says that he wants to remain silent. The driver doesn’t open his window at all, but does have his license and registration ziplocked to his window for officers to look at. After some confusion, the officers do nothing, and waive him through.
There’s even a website that has a sample sign for Florida drivers to post on their window. No word on whether anybody from Maryland has followed suit with a sign based on Maryland laws.
In fact, most lawyers and even officers who looked at the video said there was nothing inherently illegal about the activity. It’s important to remember that this is for a DUI checkpoint–not for an actual stop on the road. And, even at a checkpoint, there’s nothing to stop an officer from tailing you and pulling you over later for a bad tail light, or driving 2 miles over the speed limit.
Technique is Not a Guarantee
It’s worth noting that at least one Florida officer has said that the failure to roll down a window could constitute an obstruction of justice, preventing officers from observing whether you are impaired, and that officers could arrest anybody using the technique. That’s especially true where windows are tinted. But there’s no word that anybody using the technique has been arrested for doing it.
It’s also worth noting that if you go through a checkpoint and are questioned or arrested, you always have the right to remain silent, and to request an attorney, whether you’ve put a sign on your window or not. So regardless of whether you agree with the technique or not, the overall reminder of all of our constitutional rights is one that everyone should remember.
The criminal defense attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have extensive experience protecting the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. If you or someone you know was charged with a crime in Maryland, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.