The Super bowl of football is this weekend in New Orleans. The Baltimore Ravens v. San Francisco 49ers, it should be a good game with the Ravens proving victorious. In light of this rare occasion undoubtedly folks will drink to excess and endeavor to drive drunk. The police of course will be out in force enforcing Maryland’s DUI law. Under these “perfect storm” circumstances it is quite possible that you might stumble upon, and fall prey to, a DUI roadblock where you will be flagged and your car will be stopped for no legal reason whatsoever and you will be questioned about your comings and goings. The police will be peering in the window with their trusty energizer bunny flashlight looking for incriminating evidence like a past out body in the back of the car, empty beer and vodka bottles on the floor, or the odor of alcohol emanating from the driver’s or occupant’s breath or person.
DUI Roadblock cases are a very strange breed of case because the cops/government has no legal basis to stop your case. Therefore, you do have legal options that may surprise you. First, the police must publicize the existence of the roadblock ahead of time so the motoring public is less frightened by the cop’s World War II like scare antics. This means something must be posted in the paper or on the radio or TV. Second, there must be a legal way for the motoring public to stop and turn around if they do not desire to go through the block. There must be signs on the road as you approach the roadblock to alert you as to what is happening, thereby giving you a heads up to turn around. Third, despite the cops barking orders at you to the contrary, you may not even need to roll the window down and speak with them (depending on the circumstances). The truth is you don’t have to speak with them at all and they must let you pass, unless they observe something that triggers or heightens their interest, ie. Gives them reasonable suspicion that you are breaking the law.
The problem comes in when you do actually stop your car, roll down the window and engage them in conversation. As they smell alcohol in the car and see red glassy eyes and hear mush mouth speech they now have reasonable suspicion to pop you out of the car for field tests, which you do not and should not perform (although you do have to get out of the car at this point- you do not have to do the tests).
There are also a number of other requirements that the police must adhere to in order to have a “legal” roadblock. Google Little v. State 300 Md. 485, 479 A.2d 903 These requirements can and should be tested in a court of law. If the judge finds that the police failed to adhere to the standards set out by Maryland law then the judge can throw the resulting evidence out of court. If the evidence is thrown out as tainted, then the DUI case crumbles and you can win.
While nobody condones drinking to excess and driving a car, which is both illegal and dangerous, one does condone holding the police and government to the high personal privacy protected by the United State’s Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those include the government keeping it’s nose (flashlights and guns) out of the people’s business and thereby not stopping citizens for no particular reason other then to look for a crime. This was supposed to be illegal conduct but many courts have taken to protecting this type of dubious and illegal search and seizure. If you are stopped and arrested for DUI as a result of roadblock, feel free to give us a call for free and immediate guidance on your matter.