By: Webb Law Maine Intern Ronahn Clarke
OUI roadblocks are checkpoints near me where police officers stop every vehicle—or a certain number of vehicles at random—to search for intoxicated drivers. These DUI roadblocks appear more frequently around holidays, when driving under the influence is more common.
This legal article explores a driver’s right to not pass through the police checkpoint. So long as no traffic crime is committed, a citizen can opt to not wait for the line of drivers to be checked and depart in the opposite direction.
Are OUI Roadblocks Constitutional?
You may have heard that the police must have reasonable and individual suspicion to pull you over while you are driving. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that OUI roadblocks are an exception to this legal principle.
Prevailing legal opinion is that OUI roadblocks greatly serve public interest while minimally invading the privacy of drivers. Law enforcement attempts to conduct OUI checkpoints near me consistent with this description so that any arrests performed at checkpoints can lead to convictions in court.
Law enforcement can conduct brief stops where officers ask you a few questions to determine your level of impairment. The officer does not automatically have the right to ask you to pull over to the side of the road to conduct further questioning or submit to field sobriety tests.
The officer also does not automatically have the right to investigate you or search your vehicle for unrelated criminal activity such as the possession of illegal substances. The officer can gain the right to conduct these searches and detain you if your behavior provides them with reasonable suspicion.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Roadblocks?
OUI roadblocks must be reasonable in both planning and execution. Law enforcement should be prepared to explain how conducting an OUI roadblock at the chosen location served public interest (e.g., drunk driving arrests or collisions are common on that route). Officers are not permitted to arbitrarily select which vehicles to stop at an OUI roadblock.
Selection must follow a previously set plan (e.g., every fifth vehicle). These requirements help reduce the possibility for officers to discriminate against drivers for their appearance or the condition of their vehicle.
Supreme Court guidance says that unannounced police checkpoint searches are more intrusive and inflict more discomfort on drivers. Police departments usually announce the times and locations of OUI roadblocks in newspapers or on social media.
OUI roadblocks serve not just to apprehend intoxicated drivers but to promote public awareness and discourage intoxicated driving. You might think twice about operating under the influence if you know there are OUI checkpoints near your home. Announcing OUI roadblocks increases their preventative effect and reduces the intrusiveness of the stop.
Can I Turn Around Before an OUI Roadblock?
You are allowed to turn around and not be inconvenienced by DUI checkpoints near me in the state of Maine. However, do not commit a traffic offense while maneuvering to go on the opposite direction from a sobriety checkpoint, or a pullover then may be authorized for that traffic violation.
Our Supreme Judicial Court has found that chasing down a vehicle is unreasonable when no traffic crime was committed. An officer who pulls a vehicle over for the sole reason that the driver turned while approaching a roadblock location has no legal basis for use of emergency lights to command yielding to this traffic stop.
This behavior alone does not provide the reasonable suspicion police officers need to conduct a traffic stop. Many valid reasons can exist to explain a sober driver wanting to turn around upon seeing police lights or police cruisers blocking the roadway ahead.
When avoiding an OUI checkpoint, do not exhibit erratic driving or any other behavior which would give the officers reasonable suspicion to pull you over in normal circumstances.
Just because it is not legal to pull over a driver for turning around does not mean that it will not happen. If that illegal pullover results in OUI charges, our legal advocates can fight to avoid any license suspension or OUI conviction. You must always pull over if an emergency vehicle is behind you on the road with flashing lights or a siren.
What Should I Do If I Was Arrested at an OUI Roadblock?
OUI roadblocks provide many opportunities for experienced trial attorneys to construct a strong defense. If you believe you were pulled over or detained without reasonable suspicion when you were arrested for OUI, contact a criminal defense attorney.
Call today to Webb Law Firm at 207-283-6400 and discuss your case with a legal advisor, experienced in defending impaired driving cases in the Pine Tree State. Your conversation with our legal professionals is protected by the attorney-client relationship.
Please contact an OUI-DUI attorney with our law firm near me today. When you call our legal services office, you can obtain initial FREE legal advice.
Webb Law Firm offers this to all clients facing motor vehicle crimes, so why not call our 24-hour number, shown above? Our experienced attorneys in Maine provide a free lawyer consultation to go over your southern Maine DUI-OUI case with you.
Webb Law Maine 24-hour OUI Lawyer number is (207) 283-6400.