Legal Blog

A Guide to DUI Checkpoints in Indiana

13 November 2023 | Alcohol,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

13 November 2023


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The holidays are a time when overdrinking is rampant. You might be out on the town visiting friends and enjoying drinks with friends, but if you aren’t careful, you could risk your life. Drunk driving is dangerous, not just because of the crashes it could cause but also the consequences a drunk driver could face if charged with a DUI.

Sobriety checkpoints are just one tool that law enforcement may use to find impaired drivers or deter drunk driving. Understanding these checkpoints and how they work is crucial to protecting your safety. Learn more about Indiana’s DUI checkpoints.

Understanding DUI Checkpoints

A DUI checkpoint also called a “sobriety checkpoint,” is effectively a roadblock where law enforcement officers can direct traffic so they can observe drivers and identify impairment. Checkpoints regulate the flow of traffic in areas where drunk driving is a major concern, like on roads near bars or venues selling alcohol.

Police won’t stop every driver going through the checkpoint. They can stop drivers using various methods, like if the driver appears impaired or stopping a set number of cars. Impaired drivers can be arrested at the checkpoint.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sobriety checkpoints are efficient methods to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents through deterrence and apprehension. Studies show that fatal DUI crashes were reduced by 9% in states using sobriety checkpoints.

DUI Checkpoint Requirements

Checkpoints are regulated, so there are specific steps the police must follow before they throw down some barricades and disrupt traffic.

Checkpoints must:

  • Keep stops short so the driver isn’t there too long.
  • Be temporary. Checkpoints cannot be permanent and must be dismantled after a set amount of time.
  • Be set up at a random location.
  • Be conducted for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Be publicized ahead of time.
  • Take adequate safety measures.
  • Have easily identified police officers conducting stops.
  • Have a predictable process without bias.

The police department will announce whenever a DUI checkpoint is going to be set up and how long it will last. The announcement might be in a local publication or on the radio. Officers are looking for drunk drivers. But someone driving under the allowable blood alcohol concentration could be arrested if the police think they pose a threat to others or themselves.

How to Act at a DUI Checkpoint

There is a typical procedure police follow at a sobriety checkpoint. Your experience could vary, but the officers should follow a standard process to complete your stop.

When you approach a DUI checkpoint, there should be signs alerting you to its presence ahead. The police will not be stopping every car. Unless you’re acting suspiciously or if you are a car selected to stop, you may pass through the checkpoint with little incident.

Once you arrive at the checkpoint, make sure to drive at a safe speed to avoid drawing attention to yourself. If you’re stopped by an officer, stop your car and put it in park. Roll down your window and simply answer the questions the officer asks. You don’t need to give out extra information or mention anything that may cause the officers to suspect you of wrongdoing.

If you cooperate and do not show signs of impairment, it’s likely that the police will let you go without incident. However, if you are arrested for suspicions of driving while impaired, you should cooperate with the police. Contact a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to get started fighting your charges.

Know Your Rights at a Sobriety Checkpoint

Getting stopped at a DUI checkpoint doesn’t automatically mean you’ll face consequences. You have protected rights even if an officer decides to screen you for signs of impairment.

First, you don’t have to go through the checkpoint. If you can legally avoid the checkpoint, such as changing direction before you arrive at it, you won’t be punished for turning away. Be cautious, however, that you follow traffic laws. Otherwise, you may attract unwarranted attention from the police.

Next, if you are stopped, you should expect the stop to take a reasonable amount of time. A stop should take between 30 seconds and about 2 minutes. The police risk violating your rights if they keep you for too long.

You have the right to not answer questions that the police ask you. Aside from giving them your information, like name, birthdate, address, or drivers license, you can refuse to answer other questions. The officers might ask if you’ve been drinking. You should politely inform them that you don’t want to answer.

You can refuse searches of your vehicle or field sobriety tests. Officers might imply that you cannot refuse these things, but you are allowed to deny access to your vehicle or taking a field sobriety test.

Why You Should Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been arrested after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, you should turn to an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you beat the charges. A first DUI offense could mean up to a year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Subsequent offenses will mean longer sentences and steeper fines.

Your attorney can examine the details of your case and help you find ways to reduce your charges or get them dropped. If your rights were violated during the stop at a sobriety checkpoint, you could be facing erroneous charges. Your life shouldn’t be disrupted because of law enforcement agents’ mistakes.

By working with a skilled defense lawyer in Indianapolis, you stand a better chance at protecting your rights and your license.

Call an Indianapolis DUI Lawyer Now

Sobriety checkpoints have proven successful at reducing drunk driving incidents and even fatal crashes. However, if a DUI charge happens because of an officer’s carelessness, you could be facing strict punishments. You should call Hessler Law, PC to get started on your defense as soon as possible.

Attorney Sean Hessler has helped numerous clients protect their rights after they’ve been charged with a criminal offense. He understands how daunting a DUI offense can be, and he’s ready to help you fight for your freedom. Call (317) 886-8800 or use our online form to schedule your free initial consultation.