Labor Day weekend is a time for cookouts, lake trips, and relaxation, but remember: while you are enjoying a long weekend, law enforcement is gearing up to catch people who may have relaxed a little too much.
During holidays, football season, and major events, West Virginia police use DUI checkpoints as a way to curb the number of accidents and fatalities that may result from driving recklessly or under the influence.
Most checkpoints are concentrated in high-population areas like Morgantown or Charleston. West Virginia is a large state, and most cities are spread out, so law enforcement tends to set up checkpoints in areas with a population of 40,000 or more to focus their resources.
Also, keep in mind that while your town may not have a designated checkpoint, you could still be pulled over by an officer on patrol.
What Happens At a DUI Checkpoint?
DUI checkpoints aren’t necessarily a surprise – police are required to post a schedule ahead of time with the location, date, and hours of operation so drivers can be aware of the checkpoints. This acts as a deterrent to drivers who may have otherwise driven under the influence.
If you are stopped, the officer will most likely ask for your license and registration. This is an opportunity for them to check your state of mind up close, detect the smell of alcohol, or see evidence of impaired driving in your car. If the officer has reason to believe that you are driving under the influence, they may ask you to perform a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test.
You can refuse to answer questions and take the tests, but you may face fines and other penalties. Refusing to cooperate is like an admission of guilt according to the law, and the court is less likely to show mercy if you refuse a test.
If the officer has no reason to believe that you are under the influence, they will let you go. However, you should still take checkpoints seriously. While they are often a violation of the Fourth Amendment, DUI checkpoints that meet all the requirements are like steel traps.
What To Do If You’re Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint in West Virginia
Being pulled over is nerve-racking, and you may be inclined to negotiate or plead with the officer. This is understandable, especially if this is your first time getting pulled over, but keep in mind that police are constantly looking for evidence of impairment.
Avoid admitting guilt at all costs. Self-incrimination often happens during traffic stops, but regardless of how fearful or emotional you may be, the officer can and will hold any admissions against you.
The best thing you can do during a traffic stop is to remain calm – answer the officer’s questions calmly and carefully and avoid elaborating out of nervousness. If they begin to ask leading questions, you can exercise your right to an attorney.
Never assume that a checkpoint arrest can’t be overturned with the help of an attorney. Police often make mistakes during traffic stops, and these mistakes can land you in hot water without legal representation.
Protect Your Freedom
Labor Day weekend is a time for fun and family, but things can go downhill fast if you get pulled over. Avoid drinking and driving by calling a designated driver or staying with a friend, but if you get stopped at a DUI checkpoint, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney.
The Wagner Law Firm is West Virginia’s premiere DUI firm. We have helped thousands of clients reclaim their freedom, and we can help you too.
Contact our firm today for more information.