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What can drivers do if they see a DUI checkpoint ahead?

South Dakota police officers are often on the lookout for impaired drivers. Many enforcement efforts occur on an individual basis. Police officers perform chemical tests after crashes or when they pull someone over for driving poorly. However, some people get arrested because of large-scale enforcement efforts.

Many driving under the influence (DUI) charges are the result of sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks. Police departments arrange to screen all traffic passing through a certain point on the road. Oftentimes, there are public announcements about checkpoints or roadblocks before they occur, but drivers aren’t always aware of a checkpoint until they encounter one.

If someone spots a DUI roadblock ahead, how can they respond?

They can potentially avoid the checkpoint

Many people assume that it is illegal to intentionally avoid a DUI checkpoint. That isn’t always true. If someone is far enough away to reroute without passing through the checkpoint, it is not necessarily illegal for them to do so.

Someone could turn off onto another street or into a parking lot to avoid a checkpoint. Provided that there aren’t any signs to the contrary or other factors that would make it dangerous, a driver might even be able to lawfully complete a U-turn as a way of bypassing a DUI roadblock. That being said, many drivers are reticent to actively try to avoid checkpoints because they assume that doing so could lead to a one-on-one traffic stop or other consequences.

They can try to move along quickly

One of the reasons that checkpoints are legal is that they should cause minimal inconvenience for anyone not detained for enhanced screening. When drivers know their rights, they may be able to handle a checkpoint properly. Drivers can potentially refuse to perform field sobriety tests without putting themselves at risk of arrest or enhanced penalties. They can also choose not to answer all of the questions posed by an officer, especially if an officer has decided to arrest them.

If someone does get arrested at a DUI checkpoint in South Dakota, they still have opportunities to defend against their pending criminal charges. For example, they could question whether the police department had the right paperwork in place to legally conduct a checkpoint or question the accuracy of breath test results. Ultimately, knowing how to respond to a checkpoint can reduce someone’s likelihood of DUI charges or a criminal conviction, depending on an individual’s circumstances.