Many drivers in the Naperville area have questions about the process that occurs if an individual is stopped at a DUI or sobriety checkpoint, and what the police can and cannot do at these stops. Knowing your rights and at least the basics of what a law enforcement officer can do, and how you should respond, can help you to avoid making mistakes that may complicate legal defense options if there is a charge.
The Process at the Checkpoint
One of the most common questions asked for a DUI lawyer, is the legality of a checkpoint. In most situations, the police are only allowed to stop a vehicle if they have probable cause that there is a violation of the law. As DUI checkstops are designed to stop all vehicles, they are different from other forms of traffic stops.
The law designates that the significance of drunk driving and the potential risk of drunk or impaired drivers on the road poses a significant risk to the public, there is no violation of the law for these types of stops.
During the stop, the officer asks the driver to roll down the window and to provide some information. If the officer suspects the driver has been drinking or is impaired, the driver is asked to complete field sobriety tests. In most cases, the officer smells alcohol or detects the driver is slurring his or her speech or is exhibiting other signs of intoxication to trigger the request for a sobriety test.
Refusing the Test
Refusal to complete a field sobriety test, including a walking or balancing test, may or may not result in penalties. Drivers may refuse to complete basic types of tests such as the HGN or horizontal gaze nystagmus or walking, turning, or one leg balance tests. Refusing to complete the breathalyzer does result in a penalty, and the driver’s license is automatically suspended.
In Naperville, as well as across the state, all drivers are considered to have provided prior consent to this type of testing under the law. As your DUI lawyer will explain, failing to follow through with these tests can result in up to a three year license suspension, and it is often one of the factors used against the individual if there are formal charges.
If you are stopped at a checkpoint and charged with DUI, or if you refuse to comply with a request for a breathalyzer or other field sobriety test, contact a DUI lawyer at the Driver Defense Team as soon as possible.