Stopped at an Arizona DUI checkpoint? Now what?

It is important for Arizona drivers to know their rights when stopped at DUI checkpoints to avoid potentially incriminating themselves.

In 2013, there were more than 31,000 people arrested for DUI in Arizona, according to the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. In some cases, drunk driving arrests result from drivers being stopped at DUI checkpoints. This may be because motorists are often unsure of their rights at such stops. Consequently, they may unintentionally incriminate themselves or otherwise provide the authorities with grounds to arrest them.

Answering law enforcement's questions

When their vehicles are stopped at DUI checkpoints, drivers are frequently approached and questioned by law enforcement officers. In these situations, it is advisable for people to show the authorities their driver's licenses if they are asked. However, they do not have to answer any questions. The manner in which they respond, as well as their answers may be used against them.

Instead of speaking with law enforcement officers, drivers may assert their Constitutional rights, which includes the right to talk to an attorney before answering any questions. People should keep in mind that not talking to the authorities may rise their suspicions and cause them to investigate further.

Performing roadside sobriety tests

If law enforcement officers suspect a driver of being under the influence, they may ask him or her to perform roadside sobriety tests. Also known as field sobriety tests, people's performance on these tasks may be used as evidence of intoxication, and thus, grounds for their arrest. When asking them to perform these tests, the authorities may neglect to inform them that they do not have to comply. Nevertheless, drivers have the right to refuse these tests. Although, doing so does not guarantee they will not be arrested for suspected drunk driving.

Consenting to chemical tests

In order to determine drivers' blood alcohol concentration levels and ascertain whether they are under the influence, law enforcement may ask them to submit to chemical testing. This includes breath, blood or urine tests. Under Arizona law, people automatically consent to these tests by operating a vehicle in the state. Consequently, they cannot refuse chemical testing without facing penalties on top of those they might face if they are convicted of DUI. State law dictates that those who refuse such tests will have their driving privileges suspended for 12 months for a first time refusal.

Working with an attorney

Driving under the influence is viewed as a serious offense in Arizona, with potentially life-changing consequences. Motorists who have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving may benefit from obtaining legal representation. An attorney may help them establish a strong criminal defense, which might include questioning whether their rights were upheld at a DUI checkpoint.