The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects American motorists from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means police must typically have probable cause that a driver has broken the law or is in the act of breaking the law in order to conduct a traffic stop. Since motorists who drive while impaired are not only putting their own lives at risk, though, many jurisdictions have ruled that the safety of everyone outweighs the rights of one. As a result, law enforcement personnel in 37 states have been granted the right to conduct DUI checkpoints, which allows them to pull over motorists without probable cause in order to assess their sobriety. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Michigan is one of 13 states where police do not conduct sobriety checkpoints on the basis that they are unconstitutional; however, it was a Michigan case that initially prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on such checkpoints in the first place. In Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the court determined that DUI checkpoints are constitutional as long as law enforcement personnel follow strict regulations when conducting them. Motorists passing through these roadblocks still retain their rights, and if those rights are violated, any evidence police gather against them may not be admissible in a court of law. Although police must have probable cause to conduct a traffic stop in Michigan, sobriety checkpoints are legal in both Indiana and Ohio. Thus, it is essential that you know your rights during roadblocks in case you ever cross the border while driving. Since these rights also apply to standard traffic stops in Michigan, you should memorize them so you can identify when an officer has violated one. If you are facing DUI charges but think police violated your rights to gather evidence against you, contact Gordon & Hess, PLC to determine the best way to proceed. A Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer can assess the circumstances of your case and look for procedural errors around which to devise a solid defense. Call 616-272-3331 to schedule a consultation. What Are Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint? All motorists have certain rights that apply during both standard traffic stops and DUI checkpoints. These include the right to:
- Consult with an attorney before answering any questions;
- Refuse a search when neither a warrant nor probable cause exists;
- Have an attorney present during all questioning procedures and lineups;
- Refuse to partake in field sobriety tests; and
- Leave the traffic stop after having been detained for a reasonable period of time.
If you think your rights were violated during a traffic stop or roadblock, contact a Grand Rapids criminal attorney from Gordon & Hess, PLC to determine the best way to proceed. The attorneys at our firm have 30 years of combined experience defending clients throughout West Michigan. Call 616-272-3331 to schedule a case evaluation.