DUI Checkpoint Alert in Tulsa County: Here’s what you should know

December 31, 2021 by Sabah Khalaf

DUI checkpoints are planned in Tulsa County this New Years Eve. Before you find yourself at a DUI checkpoint, you need to know your rights and how to navigate certain questions you may be asked.

What is a DUI checkpoint?

A DUI checkpoint is an area where a law enforcement agency sets up a required stop for all cars that pass through the area. During this stop they are specifically looking for drunk drivers. Checkpoints are often used during holidays or special events that lead to a large number of drunk drivers, such as: New Years Eve, the Super Bowl, Bedlam, and Halloween.

How is it different from a regular traffic stop?

A DUI checkpoint is different from a regular traffic stop because an officer doesn’t need probably cause to stop you at a checkpoint. Normally, an officer needs a reason to initiate a traffic stop, like speeding, an expired tag, or a broken tail light.

Yes, they are. It is a confusing portion of the law, because any other traffic stop requires probable cause. However, there is a special exception for DUI checkpoints and License checkpoints. To be legal, a checkpoint must meet seven elements:

  1. police regulations must restrict discretion of officers
  2. stops must be systematic
  3. minimal intrusion of individual liberties
  4. drivers must be given an opportunity to avoid the checkpoint
  5. safety concerns should be addressed
  6. there must be a legitimate show of police authority
  7. police must show that the checkpoint is effective

How long can they stop me at the DUI checkpoint?

There isn’t a specific time limit on DUI checkpoint stops. Typically they will only keep you stopped for a minute or two, unless they believe you are intoxicated. DUI checkpoint stops cannot be overly intrusive or burdensome, but no court has specified a specific time limit that automatically qualifies.

How do I know if there is a DUI checkpoint?

Almost all DUI checkpoints are advertised on the local news ahead of time. They may not provide their exact location, but they will notify drivers that the area may be congested due to a DUI checkpoint. Once you come upon a DUI checkpoint, it will be clearly marked as a checkpoint, and officers will instruct you on what to do upon arrival.

Am I required to stop?

Yes. If you attempt to make a U turn before the DUI checkpoint, that will open you up to a traffic stop and an additional ticket or charge. You also cannot drive past the checkpoint once you reach it.

What happens once I stop at the DUI checkpoint?

Most of the time, an officer will come to your window and just have a brief conversation with you. They will ask where you are going and where you have been. They may ask if you have any fun plans for the holiday if the stop is related to a holiday or event. They may also ask you directly if you are drinking. During this time officers are checking to see if you have slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and if you smell like alcohol. As long as they don’t have any reason to believe you are intoxicated, they will send you on your way.

Am I required to take a field sobriety test?

No. If an officer asks you to take a standardized field sobriety test (walking in a straight line, finger to nose, etc.) you are not required to take the test. It is your right to decline this test. However, declining to take this test may result in your arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.

Am I required to take the state’s test?

The state’s test is either a breathalyzer or blood test that will show your blood alcohol level. You are not required to take the state’s test, and you are allowed to refuse it. If you choose to refuse the state’s test, you may be arrested for drunk driving. a DUI arrest could also result in a drivers license revocation.

The Bottom Line

A DUI checkpoint is completely different from a normal traffic stop. While you must stop at the DUI checkpoint if you come upon one, you do have the option of declining to take the field sobriety test or state’s test. While it is always your right to decline these tests, it’s important to note that declining the test will not prevent them from arresting you for suspicion of drunk driving.

If you are arrested at a DUI checkpoint, contact us for a free consultation.

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