Clemson, SC- It’s the holidays so in addition to more traveling to do and traffic to deal with, motorists also run into more roadblocks. That’s because impaired driving and fatal accidents in South Carolina spike over the holidays– too many people enjoying too much holiday cheer. With more impaired drivers, comes more police and more roadblocks, and you just might find yourself going through one so you need to know your rights.
Roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints are legal in the South Carolina but the law dictates that police must give the public advance notice they are setting one up and where it will be located. (You can look for checkpoints on this website: http://www.roadblock.org/roadblocks/South%20Carolina/. If you come across a checkpoint in your travels, you must stop since it is well within law enforcement’s power to set one up.
When you run across a checkpoint, there is no law against you trying to turn around, unless of course you make a U-Turn when you clearly warned against it. You are fully in your rights to avoid contact with the police, but turning around is going to attract the attention of police and you can still get pulled over. Oftentimes, law enforcement agencies have patrol officers waiting in the wings to chase down and stop drivers who attempt to evade a checkpoint. They are going to assume the worst and think you trying to evade a checkpoint because you are doing something illegal.
If you can’t avoid the checkpoint or choose not to be prepared to speak with police. They want to see you license and other documents and there are going to be scrutinizing what you say, how you say and what you do during your interaction.
They are going to ask you if you’ve been drinking (and we hope you haven’t). How you answer could affect your future in a number of bad ways so think carefully before opening your mouth. It’s better to say nothing than lie but that may be a pretty suspicious move. If you answer in the affirmative, police have all the probable cause they need to detain you, and determine if you are actually intoxicated. Remember everything you say can be held against you so if you are headed to the drunk tank, you’ll do your DUI defense lawyer a favor if you say as little as possible.
Don’t be rude to police. No one wants to deal with police but being rude to an officer could just get you into more trouble. Don’t be provoked, keep your calm and answer their questions as clearly and with as few words as possible. Police are taught how to interrogate people to get confessions out of them and they won’t hesitate to be manipulate you into admitting something you might later regret.
If an officer suspects you are intoxicated, they are going to ask you to submit to field sobriety tests and preliminary alcohol screening tests such as a hand-held breathalyzer. You don’t have to agree to sobriety tests but refusing them has different set of consequences in South Carolina including suspension of your driver’s license.