Avoiding Police Checkpoints and DUI
Because you’ve had a few drinks, you think about if you’re safe to drive home. While you believe you’re okay, you still get worried when you see blue lights ahead. So you make a U-turn and head back in the other direction. Next thing, an officer is pulling you over for avoiding police checkpoints and arrests you for DUI. Since this situation is fairly common, State v. Scott Eugene Williams bears review.
So Here’s What Happened
The South Carolina Highway Patrol set up a checkpoint at the bottom of a hill. However, when Williams saw the checkpoint, he made a U-turn and headed back the other way. As a result, Trooper Robertson saw the U-turn and pursued Williams. Next the trooper saw Williams car parked in a parking lot with its lights off. Next, he smelled alcohol and concluded that Williams appeared drunk. After going through field sobriety tests, the trooper charged Williams with DUI.
During trial, Williams argued that the checkpoint was unConstitutional and that his U-turn was legal. Therefore, there was no probable cause for Robertson to stop him. Because the court found the checkpoint defective, the case turned on whether the U-turn was proper. When no evidence was presented showing an illegal U-turn, the court dismissed the case. On appeal, the circuit court agreed the invalid checkpoint voided the stop and arrest. However, the Court of Appeals reversed holding a checkpoint analysis only applies if stopped there. Rather here, Williams never reached the checkpoint. Therefore, the checkpoint never becomes an issue. In addition, the U-turn did not matter because police only need reasonable suspicion to stop. Due to the suspicious circumstances, the stop and arrest Williams was proper.
While most Charleston DUI lawyers will disagree with this case, it is the law. Because most people see blue lights and think an accident is ahead, many turn around to avoid the delay. But police almost always think you are avoiding police checkpoints and chase you down. However, even with this new case, the police have to have an good reason to stop you. And if they don’t, we can fight the charge. So don’t think it is over before we begin. Rather than go it alone, call us and let’s start your defense.