DUI checkpoint – what is the law?

DUI checkpoints, DUI checkpoint, DUI, Maryland DUI laws, Maryland AttorneyRecently you might have seen DUI checkpoint activity in your community.  They frequently occur at the most annoying times (like when you’re on the way home from a great St. Patty’s Day party).  This past New Year’s Eve, I personally saw about 10 State Troopers enforcing Maryland DUI laws between I-83 and I-95 on the Baltimore Beltway.

DUI checkpoint – what is the law?

The law in this area is really quite simple.  The police may utilize a DUI checkpoint to pull your car over without reasonable articulable suspicion (the standard that is usually required). See here for a similar conclusion from the Maryland Court of Appeals.  When running a DUI checkpoint, they must follow a few simple rules and try to put forward a series of factors to justify such intrusion into your personal space.

  1. The State must justify an interest in enforcing the DUI laws
  2. They must prove what extent the interest was advanced by the checkpoint; and
  3. the level of intrusion to individuals stopped by police (see Sitz).

Other things courts look for is the random nature of the cars which are stopped at a DUI checkpoint (i.e. every 4th car being stopped for a more extensive inquiry).

What can you do if faced with a DUI checkpoint?

Finally, you may be wondering what you can do if you encounter such a roadblock.  Well, according to Federal Magistrate Judge Gauvey (A judge on the United States District Court for Maryland and my former boss), you can execute a legal U-turn prior to the roadblock and make your exit.  Be mindful, however, that if you fail to execute the U-turn lawfully or fail to obey some other rule of the road, officers will have a legal justification to stop you – and they will probably stop you anyway and they will worry about the legality in court.

If you find yourself facing a DUI checkpoint or any pending violation of the Maryland DUI laws – be sure to contact your Maryland Attorney.