You know the feeling: even if you haven’t been drinking, seeing a sobriety checkpoint ahead on the road while driving at night can make you just the slightest bit nervous.
Here’s what to do when you encounter a sobriety checkpoint in Virginia:
1. Be Aware of What is Happening Around You
When you pull into a DUI checkpoint, be aware of what is going on. Are they stopping every car? Are there any signs prohibiting you to turn around? Every detail will be important because DUI checkpoints are essentially exceptions to the protections afforded to you under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (search and seizure).
2. Exercise Your 5th Amendment Rights
If you know you have been drinking when you pull up to a checkpoint and the officer asks you, "Have you been drinking tonight", you should respond with, "Officer, my attorney has advised me to always answer that type of question by invoking my 5th Amendment right not to answer."
If at any point the officer asks you to perform a Field Sobriety Test, you should again state to the officer that "my attorney has advised me to respectfully decline to perform any field sobriety test."
3. Breath Testing
Under the implied consent law in Virginia, you are required to take the breath test. If you do not take the test, you will be charged with a civil, not criminal, offense which will result in an automatic one year suspension of your driving privileges in Virginia. Again, be aware of what is going on around you prior to taking the breath test.
It is important to note that the breath test is intended to calculate deep lung alcohol and not mouth alcohol. So if you burp, belch, have acid reflux, recently took Listerine etc., this may cause you to give a higher reading. The police are trained to wait 20 minutes after each burp before administering the breath test. This is something to keep in mind if the police officer disregards your notice to him that you burped. This is just one example of remaining alert/aware to the questions that the officer is asking you.
What should I do if I am arrested?
If you are taken into custody and charged with DUI/DWI, you will likely need to contact an experienced attorney to handle your case. This is a criminal charge and not to be taken lightly. Be sure you know what you are being charged with and the possible defenses you can raise to protect your interests. Contact Noorishad Law for a free consultation at 703-542-4500.