Do I Need to Stop at a Sobriety Checkpoint?

6Do I Need to Stop at a Sobriety Checkpoint?

With the holidays at hand, more people are on the roadways traveling to and from family gatherings and company parties. This time of year, there is an increase in the number of DUI accidents and arrests. Law enforcement may utilize sobriety checkpoints to find drivers who are driving while intoxicated or under the influence. The legal limit in North Carolina is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). If you are found to have a BAC at or higher than 0.08%, you could be charged with DWI in North Carolina.


What is a Sobriety Checkpoint?

A sobriety checkpoint is a planned area where law enforcement implements driver checks on a roadway. The area is typically a local road where police set up a mandatory check. Typically, the police determine how to implement driver checks and do not conduct them randomly. For example, the police may check every third vehicle that goes through the checkpoint. The check consists of simply speaking to the driver through the open vehicle window. If law enforcement suspects DWI, they may ask you to participate in standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). These tests are used to help law enforcement determine impairment.


Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Do I have to perform the field sobriety tests when I’m pulled over for DWI in NC?”


Do I Have to Take Part in Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are tools that the police utilize to evaluate possible impairment. You are not required to participate in field sobriety tests, but that will not necessarily save you from further action, including an arrest for suspected DWI. The same holds true for refusing to take a preliminary breath test. It is a legal requirement, under implied consent, that drivers submit to urine, blood, or breath testing. These types of tests are generally completed at the police station. If you refuse this test, you will face an additional penalty that includes the immediate suspension of your driving privileges.



What are the Penalties for DWI in North Carolina?

If you are found guilty of DWI, you could face a range of penalties. Penalties for DWI include potential jail time, fines, community service, probation, and completion of an alcohol or drug education class. Penalties increase when you have had a prior DWI conviction. It is also important to note that aggravated DWI has increased penalties. This occurs when you were involved in an accident while driving while intoxicated or getting a DWI with a minor child in the vehicle, among others. In addition, you will likely have your license suspended for a period of time. A DWI conviction could also cause you to suffer in other areas of your life. It can be difficult to get to work, for example, if you do not have a driver’s license.


DWI is a serious offense, but you do not need to handle the situation on your own. An experienced DWI attorney has the knowledge and skills to help resolve the case as favorably as possible. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.






The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.



Driving While Impaired | NC DPS

field sobriety test | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (


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