Drunk driving or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a punishable offense in South Carolina. There are checkpoints set up at various places in the state to check if people are driving under influence, violating licenses, or undergoing even more serious offenses such as transporting narcotics. It’s common for law enforcement officers to stop passersby at such checkpoints.
Drunk driving checkpoints have proven to be effective at detecting and arresting people who drive under the influence of alcohol. However, despite the best intentions of these checkpoints and the officers patrolling there, the experience may not always be pleasant for people driving perfectly sober. Furthermore, there’s the possibility of a driver being wrongly charged with driving under the influence even though they are not, due to misunderstandings or, in rare cases, officers abusing their authority.
That’s why it is essential to learn about South Carolina drivers’ rights at drunk driving checkpoints. Knowing these rights can help you avoid being on the wrong side of the law and follow the right course of action when interrogated at such checkpoints.
Asking for Information and Justification
Just because an officer is investigating you at a DUI checkpoint does not mean you should comply with every single word they say. So the first thing you should know is what you have to comply with and what things can be challenged.
Even before you answer any question or follow what the officers ask of you, you can first ask them to justify the purpose of the checkpoint and why you are stopped in the first place. The Fourth Amendment states that people cannot be subjected to unreasonable interrogations or seizures, so it’s your right to request justification for the inspection and the duty of the officers to explain the same to you.
Denying to Answer Questions
After every arrest, officers say the same line – “You have the right to remain silent.” Well, the same right can be exercised at drunk driving checkpoints. When interrogating someone for DUI, officers usually start by simply asking a list of questions. But you are not required to comply with answering every question, and you can choose to remain silent.
Having said that, do keep in mind that choosing not to comply isn’t always the best course of action and might make the officers more suspicious towards you. But the fact remains that you have full right to remain silent and can choose to talk to an attorney directly.
Complying with Field Sobriety Tests, Breath Tests, and Chemical Tests
When officers doubt a driver to be driving under influence, they ask the driver to comply with various tests like a field sobriety test, breath test, or even a blood test. But you have the right to deny these tests as well. Once again, we advise you do this at your own discretion as it can aggravate the officers and increase their suspicion.
You can ask them on what basis they are asking you to undergo these tests. If they express valid reasons for them to believe that you may be driving under the influence, then it’s best to comply with the tests. But if there isn’t any concrete reason for them to suspect you, then you have the right to refuse to comply with such tests.
Driving Away From A Checkpoint
As mentioned above, officers have the authority to investigate drivers and motorists for DUI only if they have reasonable suspicions. If you feel that you are unreasonably interrogated, you have the right to ask the officers if they have any solid reason for detain you or arrest you. If they have nothing substantial enough to detain you, then you can choose to drive away.
For example, if you comply with a field sobriety test to show that you’re sober, then you should be allowed to go, and the officers should not be holding you down unreasonably for further tests.
Contact Us If You Were Charged With Drunk Driving
Just because you have some rights to challenge the authority of officers at drunk driving checkpoints doesn’t mean you should abuse such rights. You should still be respectful towards officers and comply with their requests. But it’s essential to know South Carolina drivers’ rights if you feel that you are unreasonably treated or wrongly accused. And remember that at any point, you can always choose to contact a DUI attorney before talking to or complying with the officers. Lastly, the most important thing is to be free of any wrongdoing in the first place.