The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that a law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed, or was about to commit, a criminal offense before stopping their vehicle or compelling them to pull over. Based on this, one might think that a random roadblock or DUI checkpoint would be unconstitutional. However, a 1990 Supreme Court ruling states that drunk-driving checkpoints are, in fact, constitutional, as they are designed to increase public safety and deter drunk-driving incidents.
However, this does not mean that law enforcement officers have no rules to abide by when conducting DUI checkpoints. The Supreme Court ruled that each state must determine procedures and guidelines by which public safety checkpoints and DUI roadblocks should be conducted.
If you are driving and come across a DUI checkpoint, you may be signaled to pull over. An officer will then approach your vehicle and ask for your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. The officer also might ask you questions pertaining to where you were going, where you have been or whether you’ve been drinking. You should know that you are not required to answer these questions. However, we recommend that you conduct yourself in a polite and respectful manner at anytime you come into contact with a law enforcement officer.
Although you must comply with directives from a police officer—such as pulling your vehicle over or to provide identification and proof of insurance—you may never be compelled to incriminate yourself. This also means that you are not required to perform ANY roadside sobriety tests, nor are you required to submit to a chemical test, unless the officer has reasonable cause to believe you are under the influence. In that case, the officer must inform you of the implied consent law. You still have the right to refuse the test, although there are repercussions for refusing to submit to testing if the implied consent law is invoked.
It’s important to understand that in the course of a DUI checkpoint, the officer will scrutinize your every move, looking for reason to suspect you of DUI. Again, you are protected by the Constitution against self-incrimination—you do not have to answer any questions, although you do have to comply with a law enforcement officer’s commands.
If you have been charged with DUI as a result of a roadblock in the state of Tennessee, call Marcos Garza at the Garza Law Firm today. Mr. Garza is a seasoned attorney who knows the Tennessee roadblock guidelines and procedures, and he can help determine if the roadblock you were subject to was conducted lawfully.
Call (888) 680-7554 to set up a free case consultation.