Maryland DUI Roadblocks
DUI roadblocks are setup by police agencies in order to catch people who have been driving under the influence. Roadblocks typically occur late at night around the time when bars are closing. They are typically conducted on roads that have a high incidence of DUIs. Police agencies will look at their DUI statistics from the previous year to determine if there were a lot of DUIs on a road at a particular time and decide from there if they want to set-up a roadblock. Usually, they stop every car. If traffic backs up too much, they may switch to pulling cars out at random or every second, third or fifth car. There needs to be advanced notice of a roadblock. Usually what the police do is publish a one-sentence blurb in the local county paper saying that there will be a DUI roadblock at this time in this town. For example, it will say somewhere in Columbia or in Rockville there will be a DUI roadblock conducted between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
An officer will walk up to the car and conduct a very brief conversation with the person. If they detect any kind of odor of alcohol or any other potential indicators of impairment, they may ask the vehicle to pull aside for a further DUI investigation.
Roadblock vs. Traditional DUI Stop
A traditional DUI stop usually involves some kind of traffic infraction. The officer observes somebody speeding, weaving or running a red light and then conducts a stop. A DUI roadblock is a stop that is done without any kind of probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction is taking place. The Supreme Court has ruled that roadblocks are an exception to the reasonable ground standards for detecting a traffic stop, because DUI is so serious. Officers can conduct DUI roadblocks in Maryland without specific reasonable grounds to initiate a traffic stop.
You can make any kind of legal traffic maneuver to avoid a roadblock. This can include turning off the road or conducting a legal U-turn. This is not a traffic violation, and not a reason or justification to stop a vehicle. Frequently in a roadblock situation a police car, stationed at the periphery of the roadblock, will be watching exactly for that type of behavior. Then they will follow the vehicle and look for an “independent” reason to pull the vehicle over. They look for any kind of minor traffic infraction to justify stopping the cars that do try to drive away from the DUI checkpoint.
Benefits of a Maryland DUI Lawyer
A Maryland DUI attorney lawyer can be extraordinarily helpful in roadblock cases. There are all sorts of constitutional limits to how roadblocks can be conducted. Having a lawyer look at the actual documentation and facts of your particular roadblock case can lead to the roadblock itself being found unconstitutional, which means that your stop was unconstitutional. It needs to be suppressed, and then anything that flows from that stop, including the field sobriety test and the alcohol test, gets thrown out. It is imperative in a DUI roadblock case to have a competent attorney look at the facts. An experienced DUI lawyer in Maryland knows what the constitutional restrictions are on roadblocks. They can review the facts and determine whether the particular roadblock meets every single restriction. If it does not, they will challenge the charges and have the case dismissed.