When you see an OUI checkpoint up ahead, it can make you nervous and uncomfortable. Even if you are not under the influence of any substance, going through a sobriety checkpoint can still be inconvenient and invasive. While these checkpoints may feel unfair or intrusive, they are legal in Massachusetts under state and federal law.
How you conduct yourself during a police checkpoint can greatly affect the outcome. Here is some general information about your rights and how to behave during a checkpoint.
1. Do not make illegal turns to avoid it
You have the right to avoid a checkpoint if you notice one. But you cannot break any laws by doing so. Only change lanes and make turns or U-turns if it is legal and safe to do so.
2. Drive carefully
Expect for the police officers to scrutinize your every move. The last thing you want is to stand out by doing anything improper, such as speeding, honking or failing to use your turn signal when necessary. Be mindful about following traffic laws and any instructions the cops give you.
3. Avoid incriminating yourself
It is best to not overshare with an officer at a checkpoint. Even if you are a naturally talkative person or you believe that having an honest conversation will help you, you may make a statement that causes the officer to be suspicious. Do not talk or answer more questions than necessary.
4. Do not allow searches
In order for a police officer to lawfully search of your vehicle, he or she must either have a warrant, have probable cause to suspect a crime or see something suspicious in plain sight. You do not need to allow an officer to search your car outside of these circumstances.
5. Leave with permission
Do not leave the checkpoint until the officer lets you. Otherwise, this may be seen as fleeing the checkpoint. When in doubt, ask the officer if you can leave.