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What You Need to Know About South Carolina Sobriety Checkpoints

If you plan to operate a vehicle in the state of South Carolina, particularly if you are considering drinking any amount of alcohol beforehand, you should be acutely aware of the possibility of running into a police Sobriety Checkpoint.
Alternately known as roadblocks, DUI checkpoints, and mobile checkpoints, this type of police tactic is perfectly legal in South Carolina, and is intended to weed out inebriated drivers and protect public safety.
Here’s how they work:
The police will set up a road block on a public road and briefly detain every vehicle that passes through. It gives the police time to check your tags, check your driver’s license, and get an up close look at you to see if there is any indication you’ve been drinking.
The officers may ask you questions, see if they can smell alcohol, and may even have drug sniffing dogs on hand who may indicate if you have an illegal substance in the vehicle. If they see any probable cause to indicate that you’ve been drinking, the officers may further detain you, conduct field sobriety tests, and potentially arrest you for DUI.
They will also keep a close watch on approaching vehicles, and you will give them much of the probable cause they need to detain and even arrest you if you attempt to turn around or avoid the roadblock when you see it.
“But isn’t it illegal to detain someone without first having probable cause?” you might ask. Yes, the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects your right against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the US Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints on the basis that the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol outweigh the degree of intrusion necessary to conduct a sobriety checkpoint stop.
Strict rules are to be enforced at every checkpoint, however. For, the police must publicly announce the date and location of any checkpoint, they must obtain supervisory approval (meaning one officer can’t just set up a roadblock on a whim), and they must have a valid reason to believe that the checkpoint is necessary.
Additionally, checkpoint stops must be brief, the vehicles they choose to stop or exclude cannot be chosen at random, the location must be safe and visible, and if an arrest occurs the prosecution must demonstrate that the roadblock was effective in serving the public interest.
If you are ever stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in South Carolina, it is important to note that you do have rights. You are not required to answer any questions, particularly ones that may be self-incriminating. You should cooperate with the officers and be polite, but you do not have to assist them in uncovering the probable cause they are looking for. Aside from politely refusing to answer questions, you should do as you’re instructed by the officers, such as showing your driver’s license or stepping out of the vehicle when asked.
You also have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. This may automatically result in your arrest for DUI, but as we have discussed in previous blogs field tests are oftentimes flawed and unreliable, and even sober people have the potential to fail them. Waiting until you get to the station to take a blood test or more reliable breathalyzer test may be in your best interests.
If you’ve been arrested as a result of a South Carolina DUI checkpoint, there are potential defenses that can protect you from a conviction, and it is vital that you immediately enlist the guidance of a skilled DUI attorney. Contact the Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team today and let us fight to protect your rights.

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