Setting up a sobriety checkpoint is one of the easiest ways that the police crackdown on drinking and driving. Police departments throughout the state set up numerous roadblocks around weekend and holidays to enforce the Massachusetts Drunk Driving laws.
What is a sobriety checkpoint? A sobriety checkpoint funnels all vehicles through a centralized location. By the time you see the checkpoint, it will be too late to turn around; you will have no choice but to drive through the checkpoint. The first stop of a sobriety checkpoint begins with a screening officer speaking to the driver of the vehicle and explaining what is going to transpire. During this conversation, the police officer will be looking to see if the driver has blood shot eyes, smells of alcohol, or appears to be impaired by alcohol. If the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that the driver has been drinking, then the officer will send the driver to a secondary screening area. During the secondary screening area, the driver will be asked questions about whether they had been drinking and if so, how much. The driver will also be asked whether he or she would participate in field sobriety tests. Based on the driver’s answers, performance on field sobriety tests, and other relevant factors, the officer will determine whether the driver should be arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.
The three most important things to remember if you end up at a sobriety checkpoint and you may have been drinking:
1. Refuse to perform field sobriety tests
2. Refuse to take the breathalyzer test
3. Don’t answer any questions related to the consumption of alcohol.
Performance on field sobriety tests is extremely subjective and even people who are not under the influence of alcohol fail them. By performing the tests, you are providing the police with evidence against you. There is zero reason to agree to perform field sobriety tests. Politely decline!
You will also be questioned about whether you have been drinking and how much you have had to drink. Most likely if you admit that you have been drinking you are going to be arrested for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol.Do not give the police evidence against you.
If the officer determines you were operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, he or she will arrest you. Once that happens, the officer will Mirandize you. You have the right to remain silent and to an attorney. Invoke your rights! Do not make any statements. Nothing you say will help you avoid being arrested. At the police station, you will be asked routine booking questions which you will have to answer such as name, date of birth, and address. Do not answers questions about how much alcohol you had that night.
While there has been a lot of controversy over the breathalyzer tests, and most District Attorney’s Offices are not admitting the breathalyzer tests into evidence, our legal advice is to still refuse to take the breathalyzer test. Be aware that this refusal triggers and automatic suspension. The suspension differs based on whether you have a previous arrest for DUI or not.
By taking the breathalyzer test you could be providing evidence against yourself in the form of your breath alcohol content. The police will inform you that if you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, your driver’s license will be suspended by the RMV. The length of your suspension depends on whether this is a first, second, third, fourth or fifth offense as outlined below:
· First Offender Over 21 180 days
· Second Offender or Under 21 3 yrs + 180 days (waived if in 24P program)
· Third Offender 5 years
· Fourth Offender 10 Years
· Fifth Offender Life
If you are found not guilty at trial, we will file a motion requesting the judge return your driver’s license and if the motion is allowed, and it usually is, we can represent you at the RMV to request your license be reinstated even though it was suspended because of the breath test refusal. We have represented many clients who were found not guilty and then had their driver’s license reinstated by the RMV even though their license was still supposed to be suspended because they refused the breathalyzer test.
Your ability to successfully defend against an OUI charge at trial is dramatically
increased if you do not take the breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. Without field sobriety tests and breathalyzer results, all the police
officer could testify to would be that you had red, glassy eyes and he
could smell an odor of alcohol on you. The police write that in every
report and testify to it at every trial.
The best defense is to NOT provide evidence against yourself; DO NOT answer
the police officer’s questions about how much you had to drink,
DO NOT take the field sobriety tests, and DO NOT take the breathalyzer test!
There is no reason to drink and drive because Uber and Lift are always available. Pay them not an attorney! Do not drive if you have been drinking.
At Sweeney & Associates, we routinely handle Operating Under the Influence cases. If you find yourself in an incriminating situation or think you may face criminal charges, contact us for a free consultation at (617) 328-6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.