Whether at a pre-arranged checkpoint or from a police officer pulling you over, being stopped on suspicion of driving drunk is a stressful experience. A small misstatement or failure to understand and enforce your rights during the traffic stop could lead to you facing serious criminal and administrative penalties. This is true regardless of whether you have any history of drunk driving or other criminal behavior on your record.
Generally, the best way to handle DUI stops in New Haven is to know what you should expect from the process in advance. This can help you remain calm and cooperative during the incident. If a DUI stop results in an arrest, you should contact a defense lawyer at Ruane Attorneys for guidance and strategic support.
How State and Federal Laws Govern DUI Checkpoints
While the U.S. Constitution prohibits “unreasonable search and seizure” by law enforcement personnel, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that DUI checkpoints operated by local police do not violate drivers’ constitutional rights. Additionally, the Connecticut Appellate Court made a similar ruling based on the state constitution in 1996. However, there are several strict rules that law enforcement officers must follow for these checkpoints to be legal.
First, police can only put up checkpoints in areas where there have been several accidents and traffic infractions related to drunk driving in the recent past. They may also put up checkpoints on highly trafficked roads that most theoretically impaired drivers would take compared to alternate routes. Checkpoints must also:
- Be visible to all drivers
- Be marked as checkpoints
- Be approved in advance by a senior officer
- Have a supervisor on site, ensuring proper procedures are followed
Police officers operating DUI checkpoints in New Haven must establish and follow a neutral pattern for choosing which vehicles they stop. They cannot stop people based on their gender, race, socioeconomic status, or vehicle’s make and model. If a DUI arrest results from an unlawfully operated checkpoint, our New Haven attorneys may be able to contest the arrest on those grounds.
What Rights Do Drivers Have During DUI Stops?
During DUI stops in New Haven and around Connecticut, officers will typically ask drivers where they are coming from and their destination. The officer will examine how the driver answers those questions and whether they show any signs of intoxication. If the officer thinks a driver is intoxicated, they can ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and submit to breathalyzer testing or various standardized field sobriety tests.
Connecticut law does not require drivers to consent to either type of testing during a DUI stop, and it can sometimes be beneficial to refuse to submit to testing. For instance, the results of a poorly performed field sobriety test might be used as evidence against a driver. That said, refusal to submit to these tests can also be used as evidence against an arrested driver. Refusing a breathalyzer test will lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension. The lawyers at our New Haven office can further explain a driver’s right to refuse testing during a DUI stop.
Call a New Haven Attorney After a DUI Stop
Being stopped by a law enforcement officer who suspects you of DUI can have high stakes. Fortunately, you have help available to you from dedicated legal professionals who can work to contest the DUI charges and advise you of your rights.
Speaking with legal counsel following a DUI stop in New Haven is the first step in protecting your rights and long-term best interests. Call Ruane Attorneys today for a consultation.