As much as drivers dread the thought of seeing a cruiser flash their lights behind them for a minor traffic infraction, they probably dread sobriety checkpoints even more. Those feel like blatant “fishing” expeditions by the police to hunt for drunk drivers – because that’s exactly what they are.
Mississippi is among the numerous states that allow sobriety checkpoints, although their locations must always be publicized. That’s all well and good, but what if you didn’t see the notice and find yourself approaching one after a night out with your friends or relatives? If you had even a drink or two with dinner, you could find yourself in trouble.
Here are some tips that can help you get through it
If you spot the sobriety checkpoint far enough ahead, you could turn away in time to avoid it – but be warned: You will definitely attract the attention of the police by doing so.
If you make an illegal u-turn or commit another traffic mistake in the process, you’ll end up stopped anyhow (and nothing invites police scrutiny like trying to avoid a checkpoint in the first place).
If you proceed to the checkpoint, remember these guidelines:
- The entire purpose of a DUI checkpoint is to give officers a chance to gather the evidence they may need to arrest you. What you do (or don’t do) next is critical.
- You do not need to provide anything other than your basic identifying information. Since that is on your driver’s license, you can hand your license over without any conversation.
- Do not talk with the officer or answer any personal questions about where you are going or where you are coming from, because those are designed to elicit information that suggests you may have been where alcohol was served.
- Do not agree to participate in standardized roadside sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn test or the one-legged stand. These are hard to pass and entirely voluntary.
- Assume that you are being recorded on the officer’s body cam, so don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t want to see replayed in court.
Hopefully, you’ll endure no more than a cursory inspection and be sent on your way. If the officer decides that they think you’ve been drinking, however, and you find yourself facing either further investigation or under arrest, make sure you take immediate steps to protect your legal rights.