Sobriety Checkpoints in Virginia

I’ve had a handful of people ask me lately if displaying a certain ‘warning’ on your car window will excuse you from complying with a DUI checkpoint. The message reads something along the lines of: “I remain silent. No searches. I invoke my right to an attorney.” This won’t work in Virginia. A valid checkpoint is a lawful stop and you are required to provide your license and registration.

DUI checkpoints have many names – “roadblocks” and “traffic safety checking detail” are among the most common. Police are not only required to minimize the delay time for each vehicle at a roadblock, but they are also not authorized to stop every car passing through. Typically, they briefly detain every fourth or fifth car, but the mathematical equation they employ varies.

If the officer believes you’re driving under the influence, you will be asked to move your vehicle to the side of the road for additional questioning. Police may have a reasonable suspicion that you have consumed too much alcohol prior to driving if you show any of these signs:

·Watery, bloodshot eyes
·Slurred speech
·Alcohol on your breath
·Erratic driving behavior

It’s important to understand that if your car is the unlucky one stopped, you aren’t automatically suspected of DUI. Your behavior will be the first thing observed. Below are some tips on how to react if your vehicle is detained at a Virginia checkpoint:

·Turn on your video recorder while waiting in line;
·Remain calm;
·Don’t speak;
·Come to a complete stop;
·Roll your window down completely;
·Supply your license, registration and proof of insurance when/if asked;
·If you’re asked if you’ve been drinking, politely deny;
·If you’re asked to step out of your vehicle, comply;
·If you’re asked to complete any roadside tests (field sobriety tests), politely deny;
·If you’re asked to take a preliminary breath test (PBT); politely deny.

At this point the officer will either tell you you’re free to go or arrest you for DUI. If you’re arrested and charged with DUI, it’s likely the prosecution has a weak case. As the defendant, you don’t have to prove your innocence because the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Maybe you had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. But with neither an admission to drinking nor test results, your attorney should be able to build a solid defense.

 
About the Author:
Suzi Wolf, Paralegal
Suzi assists in the research and analysis involved in each case handled by Robinson Law, PLLC, and she is responsible for all “behind the scenes” work. Her primary duties range from accounting and drafting contracts to filing motions and assisting in trial preparations. Ms. Wolf is thrilled to take on her most recent project as the firm’s blogger and hopes to provide informative, enjoyable posts regarding common topics in criminal law.
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If you need legal advice regarding a traffic or criminal matter, please contact Robinson Law, PLLC directly at (703) 542-4008 or MAR@VirginiaDefenseAttorney.com. This blog is not intended to serve as legal advice.
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