You're driving down the road when you suddenly see bright red and blue lights ahead.

Signs are posted along the road announcing a police checkpoint.  You realize you left your license at home, and you don't want to get a ticket.

So you decide to make a U-turn ahead of the checkpoint.  Is this legal?  It depends.

Mention a DUI or DWI checkpoint to many people and the reaction is usually negative.  People question the legality of these stops.

Are DUI/DWI Checkpoints Constitional

In New Jersey, these checkpoints have been ruled constitutional, albeit with strict rules about how they are carried out.

Police must randomly select which cars are stopped.

The Checkpoints must be announced ahead of time.

There must be signage and lights.

While we may not like them, they serve as a useful tool to get dangerous intoxicated drivers off the road.

What Happens When You're Topped at DUI/DWI Checkpoint

If you are stopped, you'll be asked for your credentials and the officer will observe for signs of impairment.  This may include slurred speech, or perhaps the odor of alcohol.

If the officer suspects you're impaired, you may be asked to step out of your car and perform several tasks to test your sobriety.

You may even be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test.

New Jersey has an implied consent law that means if you refuse to take the test, that is considered a failed test and you'll be penalized.

Is It Legal to Avoid A Checkpoint

What if you decide to swing a U-turn before reaching the checkpoint?

According to various attorneys, you do not have to proceed to the checkpoint if you have an opportunity to turn onto another street legally.  The key word is legal.

If you make an illegal U-Turn, or another illegal maneuver to avoid the checkpoint, you can be pulled over and faced with traffic violations in addition to suspicion of DUI.

Truthfully, if you haven't been drinking, the checkpoint shouldn't be a big deal.  Have your credentials ready, and the process will be painless.

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