Can Police Search Your Vehicle at DUI Checkpoints

If you find yourself at a police checkpoint, it is wise to know your rights about police searches. This is particularly critical around the holidays when checkpoints are commonplace. A wrong move at a police checkpoint could end up putting a substantial damper on your holiday enjoyment. 

Unlawful Vehicle Searches

If you know your rights at a DUI checkpoint, it could make the difference between a DUI arrest and being sent along your merry way. Your Fourth Amendment constitutional rights provide you with freedom from unlawful searches and seizures. That includes a vehicle search at a DUI or sobriety checkpoint. So, can police lawfully search your vehicle at a DUI checkpoint?

In the course of carrying out their duties, police officers may overstep an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights to get the evidence they need to support a DUI arrest. However, there are specific things that police officers can and can’t do at a sobriety checkpoint. One thing is for sure–law enforcement officers can’t search your vehicle at a DUI checkpoint unless they have your consent or probable cause.

Probable Cause

Police officers are required to have sufficient evidence to reasonably assume that you committed a crime. Officers will often use drug dogs if they suspect illicit drugs are somewhere in your vehicle. If a drug dog barks, that serves as the necessary probable cause to search your vehicle.

Consent to a Search

Police may use manipulative language and trickery to coerce you into consenting to a search. They might pose a question such as, “Do you have anything to hide?” Or, “You don’t mind if I take a look inside your vehicle, do you?”  However, you don’t have to give your consent.

Be tactful, but also make it crystal clear to the police officer that you do not give your consent to searches. Again, do this in a respectful manner. In some cases, police officers can arrest individuals for resisting because of the way they voice their refusal of a search. When engaging law enforcement, It is a good idea to only speak when spoken to, and to address the officer politely. When you deny consent to a search, tell the officer that you are not resisting—you are merely exercising your Fourth Amendment right to refuse consent to an unprovoked search.

Hiring an Attorney

Remember, if you get stopped at a checkpoint, police officers can only search your vehicle if they have probable cause that you committed a crime. Or they can initiate a search if you give them your direct consent. 

If you were stopped at a DUI checkpoint and were the victim of an unlawful search, an attorney could help you address any charges you are facing. Or, if you were pulled over and arrested for drugged or drunk driving, you will need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer on your side. DUI defense attorneys know the ins and outs of the law. They know the judges and the courts. They also know how to craft a strategic defense even when it may seem you have been caught with sufficient evidence to establish guilt or responsibility definitively.