The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against the police pulling your car over on a hunch. If the only reason the police officer stopped you was that you appeared to turn around (or down a side street) near a DUI checkpoint, this is not a sufficient reason for the stop. If this is the only reason the police stopped you, then everything that follows (including your DUI-DWI arrest) would not be admissible against you.
For any law enforcement officer to have a valid reason to stop your vehicle there must be an “articulable and reasonable suspicion” that you are an unlicensed driver, that your vehicle is not registered, or that either you or the vehicle you are driving is in violation of the law. “Articulable” means the law enforcement officer is able to give the court, through his or her testimony under oath, a reason why he or she believed there was a violation of the law justifying the stop of your vehicle.
What constitutes “reasonable” is analyzed on a case-by-case basis, but it typically has to be more than a mere “hunch” on the part of the officer. Certainly, an otherwise legal turn into an apartment parking lot does not rise to “articulable suspicion” if based only on an officer’s hunch. Nor does police observation of you driving (otherwise lawfully) through an unlit area, late at night, and where the officer is aware that burglaries have occurred in the immediate area in the recent past, rise to articulable suspicion.
What if I Had a Legitimate Reason for Turning Around?
Some cases get decided on a minor fact, such as the vehicle stopping abruptly and then suddenly turning into a parking lot, thereby creating “reasonable suspicion” of the driver seeking to avoid the roadblock versus visiting someone who lived there. This is why the detailed account of your arrest that you give to your DUI attorney is so important.
When you come to our office for your free consultation, we will ask you if you were stopped by the police chase car because they thought you were trying to avoid an upcoming checkpoint. We can defend against this type of improper stop as we have done hundreds of times in courtrooms around the country.
More DUI FAQ Resources
To learn more about DUI checkpoints, read some of our informative articles below. We dive into all the different aspects of DUI checkpoints and DUI roadblocks in these helpful articles.