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Can I Refuse a DUI Checkpoint?

While there are exceptions (Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming), nearly every state in the US allows DUI checkpoints. They can occur all year round but they are most often set up near hotspots for drunk driving, or in a perimeter around sports and entertainment events.

When you are approaching a DUI checkpoint, you have options and rights. You may be wondering if one of those rights is to choose to simply refuse the checkpoint. If you want to understand the possibilities and consequences of that decision, you can find some important information, below.


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Is it legal to simply ignore the checkpoint?

No, this is not legal or a good idea. If an officer asks you to stop your car, but you continue driving, you may put yourself in danger of being charged with many different offenses—some of them more serious than a standard DUI.

Because the officers are likely to be standing in the road, it is difficult to move past any checkpoint without endangering the officers who are manning it. That will result in much more significant charges than you would be facing even if you are driving over the legal limit.

Instead of facing an ignition interlock device, you may lose your driving privileges entirely for a long time.

If you drive through a checkpoint without causing any danger to anyone, you can still expect to be pursued and stopped. After that, you will almost definitely end up taking a DUI test regardless of your wishes.


Is it legal to avoid the checkpoint?

Avoiding a checkpoint isn’t strictly illegal, especially if the avoidance is incidental (for example, if you always take the route home that has a turn just before a checkpoint). However, deliberately avoiding the checkpoint within site of it may attract attention, and make it more likely that you will be stopped.

There are typically patrol cars spread out in the area around a checkpoint, and erratic behavior such as u-turns may provide probable cause for a traffic stop.

That said, the locations of traffic stops are often announced in advance for the purpose of public safety. It is not a crime to path your route home so that you do not pass through any checkpoints as long as that doesn’t result in irregular behavior on the road.


Is it legal to remain silent?

You cannot skip a DUI checkpoint, but you can refuse a search of your vehicle or refuse to take a breathalyzer test. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be compelled to take a test, just that a test can only take place after a formal arrest. You can choose to remain silent.

While this is an option, it’s not necessarily the one that’s in your best interest. If you are not over the limit, but simply protective of your rights, being arrested will be a far greater inconvenience to you.

In most cases, the most efficient way to respond to a DUI checkpoint is by politely answering the questions that you are asked.

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