Turning Around at a DUI Checkpoint
Any experienced DUI defense lawyer can tell you it’s common for drivers to turn around when they spot a DUI checkpoint in the distance. Is this legal? Does this mean you’re more likely to get pulled over and charged with a DUI if a police officer sees you turn around before a checkpoint? There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Yes, it is suspicious when you make a sudden turn prior to a checkpoint, but it doesn’t mean you will be arrested and charged with a DUI. Here’s what you should know about DUI checkpoints, turns, and your future.
Generally, the law does not allow for a police officer to pull anyone over without probable cause, which is defined as reasonable ground to make a search, pull someone over, or charge a driver with a crime.
For example, a police officer cannot pull you over merely because they watched you pull out of a bar parking lot after being parked there for hours. They can follow you all the way home, but they cannot pull you over unless an illegal act occurs, including:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Running a red light
- Running a stop sign
- Failing to stop fully at a stop sign
- Making an illegal turn at a red light
- Passing on a double yellow line
These are all grounds for a police officer to stop you and ask you to submit to a sobriety test. However, the law is different when there are checkpoints in place.
An officer does not need probable cause to stop you at a DUI checkpoint. All DUI checkpoints must meet certain requirements specific to the state where the checkpoint is conducted. According to the law, a checkpoint must have a warning sign placed prior to the checkpoint to make drivers aware.
Is it Illegal to Turn Around Before a DUI Checkpoint?
It is not illegal to turn around prior to a checkpoint. However, it is illegal to make an illegal turn prior to a checkpoint. If you turned where a “No U-Turn” sign was posted, you drove through a median, or you turned the wrong way into a turning lane, an officer can pull you over despite the fact you did not enter the checkpoint.
If the driver made an illegal U-turn to get away from the checkpoint, the police officer can pull the driver over for breaking a law. If no laws are broken, no stops can occur. Avoiding a DUI checkpoint is not probable cause to pull over a vehicle.
For example, perhaps you turned prior to a checkpoint down a side street and went around the checkpoint. It could be argued that you are not avoiding a stop because of driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, or even driving with illegal items in your car. Perhaps you always take that side street detour home because it’s faster than the route where the checkpoint was located. Perhaps you try to avoid major intersections at all costs. You have grounds to argue your turn even when it appears suspicious.
If you’re pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, remain quiet and do not fight or argue with the officer. Enact your legal right to an attorney if you are arrested at a Jacksonville DUI checkpoint and call Lockett Law, P.A at (904) 667-0626.