Do I Have to Stop at a DUI Checkpoint in Rhode Island?

dui checkpoint

The Constitutionality of Checkpoints

Many people believe that roadside checkpoints violate our constitutional rights. They argue that the entire practice represents an illegal search and seizure. The police have no probable cause to stop large groups of people, so the practice must be illegitimate.

The state of Rhode Island agrees. According to the State Supreme Court, “It is illogical to permit law enforcement officers to stop fifty or a hundred vehicles on the speculative chance that one or two may be driven by a person who has violated the law in regard to intoxication.”

The United States Supreme Court, however, disagrees. In its 1990 Michigan Dept. of State Police vs Sitz decision, it concluded that the dangers of drunk driving outweigh the “degree of intrusion” checkpoints create.

Federal law always trumps state law. Therefore, DUI checkpoints are legal in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s Checkpoint Compromise

To balance the conflict between state and federal decisions, Rhode Island created a compromise. The police in Rhode Island may conduct DUI checkpoints, but they must advertise the stops beforehand.

Many online resources can tell you when and where these checkpoints will happen. Before you go out, do a quick Google search on your phone for local checkpoints, and you should get immediate results.

How to Avoid DUI Checkpoints

You are legally allowed to skip a DUI checkpoint in Rhode Island, but you must obey the law when doing so. You cannot, for instance, perform a sudden, illegal U-turn.

If you find yourself stuck in line for a checkpoint, look for safe, legal ways to get out. You may find an opportunity to turn down a side street, or you may be able to do a legal U-turn.

Keep in mind, however, that the police are crafty. They know that people can get out of line without punishment. Chances are, they will set up their checkpoints in places where there is little opportunity to escape. Your best bet is to regularly search online resources for Rhode Island’s upcoming DUI checkpoints.

DUI Penalties in Rhode Island

The state doles out harsher punishments for higher BAC (blood alcohol content) levels. People with BAC levels between 0.08 and 0.1 suffer milder penalties than those who have a BAC between 0.1 and 0.15.

Because it’s difficult to know exactly what your BAC level is, here is a list of the harshest DUI penalties in the state.

  • 1st Offense:
    Up to 1 year in jail; fines up to $1,200; licenses suspended up to 12 months; up to 60 hours of community service; mandatory driving school classes and/or alcohol rehab
  • 2nd Offense:
    Between 6 months and 1 year in jail; fines up to $1,750; licenses suspended between 1 and 2 years; mandatory alcohol rehab
  • 3rd Offense (or more):
    Between 3 and 5 years in jail; fines between $1,000 and $5,000; licenses suspended for 3 years; mandatory alcohol rehab

Know Your Rights

Remember, no matter the accusation or the evidence against you, you have a right to defend yourself. Criminal convictions depend on guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” There is probably room for doubt in your case, and a good attorney can uncover it. Even a blood test, normally considered infallible, is up for debate. Tell your lawyer every detail of your case, and they can help you build a strong defense that can keep you traveling freely on the road.

If you’ve been accused of driving under the influence, Law Office of Steven J. Hart is here for you. To set up a free consultation, call us today at (888) 701-0919 or contact us online.

Related Posts
  • What Happens If You Get a DUI While Driving With a Young Child? Read More
  • DUI Arrests in Kent County Read More
  • When may I refuse to submit to a chemical test in Rhode Island Read More