I recently tried another DUI Roadblock case in Howard County District Court. Yes, another roadblock case, I have written extensively regarding the legality of roadblocks and the DUI Defendant’s responsibility in Maryland. For those who are interested, the seminal case is Little v. State which spells out the Government’s obligations to you (the people of Maryland) and your legal rights under this evasive big brother type of traffic stop scenario in which the Government has placed their stamp of approval.
It is an “evasive big brother” type of traffic stop because the police are stopping your car with no probable cause and with no “reasonable articulable suspicion” that the driver has committed any crime or traffic infringement whatsoever (this is required by case law to stop a vehicle). The people of this country are protected (used to be protected) against stops like this by the U.S. Constitution. However, the Government has saw fit to override your Constitutional Protections in light of the nefarious drunk drivers and boisterous arguments advanced by MADD. Drunk driving is indeed dangerous and stupid, it hurts people and cannot be tolerated in any form; however, the way to go about the problem is not to trample the Constitution and stop every car for an “inspection” like Nazi Germany, the way to handle the problem is through highway supervision like it is normally done, where there does exist reasonable suspicion protections to pull drivers over when they are weaving, speeding or exhibit some other transgression on the roadway.
In the DUI Roadblock case, drivers do have certain important rights which I will reiterate here. When those rights are violated by the police, as happened in my recent DUI/DWI case in Howard County, the Court will throw out illegally obtained evidence and you can win your case, even if you blew an illegal breath alcohol (BAC) number.
At a roadblock, there MUST be physical signs leading up the roadblock to advise drivers what is going on down the road, you have the absolute right to make a LEGAL turn and go the other way and not be molested by the cops. A legal turn is one that does not violate any laws, such as in illegal U-turn. If you do make an illegal turn, they will of course stop you at that point.
If you do not turn away, you have the legal right NOT to roll down your window when directed to do so by the authorities. They can speak through the window, as you can and if they don’t notice any other documentable reasonable suspicion, then asking you to pull over will not stand in court. To that end, you do not need to even speak with them at all when they try to engage you to do so, they will note your “slurred” speech when you do speak and use that against you as a basis for the stop. That’s not to say that you will have slurred speech (and if you do, you shouldn’t be driving) but they will note it anyway.
Finally, there will be a stop sign placed at the check point which you must legally stop at, but after stopping, you are actually free to carry on about your business, ie. no eye contact, no talking to them . They will most definitely follow you out of the checkpoint as you have not succumbed to their authority in an attempt to identify poor driving, but assuming that you have not been drinking, you should not exhibit any poor driving, speeding etc. If they do “order” you to pull over when you refuse to speak with them, you must follow their orders, or you will get in breach for failure to follow their order, but they will have not legal basis for the stop and their case will be very weak or non-existent in Court. As usual, you are under NO obligation to do any field sobriety testing and you should not. Nor should you speak to any police following arrest without first speaking to counsel.
Welcome to America….