DWI Checkpoints: What You Need To Know

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?”


You are driving down the road and suddenly, you see police activity ahead — a sure sign of a DWI checkpoint. You may feel scared and uneasy, even if you know that you are well under the legal limit. It is helpful to understand DWI checkpoints in North Carolina and what to do when you encounter one of these on your route. If you are charged with DWI in North Carolina, you will want to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to help guide you through the legal process for the best possible outcome.


Police-road-block-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-DWI-checkpoint-300x225What is the Purpose of a DWI Checkpoint?


Law enforcement takes driving while impaired seriously. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol reported 17,685 DWI arrests in 2019, the most recent year of published data. That amounts to more than 48 DWI arrests each day of the year. Police utilize a variety of methods to find drivers who are DWI. One of the purposes of a DWI checkpoint is to locate intoxicated drivers and get them off the road before they cause harm.


How Does a DWI Checkpoint Work?


DWI checkpoints are conducted by law enforcement. They choose the location of the checkpoint as well as the time and duration. Officials also determine the way to conduct the review. For example, they may decide to check every third or fifth car. Police set up the checkpoint so that vehicles must slow and stop as they direct. They will stop vehicles and request that the driver roll down the window; the police may review the driver’s license, registration, and insurance. While the main purpose is to locate potential drunk drivers, police may also find drivers who are not driving legally and will address those issues at once.


Are DWI Checkpoints Legal?


DWI checkpoints are legal as long as they are being conducted in accordance with proper procedures. For example, they may choose to review every fifth car but suddenly deviate and check a different car. This act could be improper and might be illegal. If a driver finds that they were pulled over illegally, they may be able to prove that the evidence gathered is not allowed. It is important to note that if you see a checkpoint you may not want to avoid it by making a u-turn. This could cause the police to pursue you and pull you over.


What to Do if You are Arrested for DWI


A DWI arrest can be stressful. Keep a few things in mind if you are arrested for DWI. You must submit to a chemical test, which is typically completed at the police station. Do not speak to officers until your attorney is present. Anything you say might be used against you in court. While you do not have to comply with field sobriety tests, your failure to do so will likely result in a DWI arrest and likely have other serious repercussions to consider. The best way to fight DWI charges is with help from a qualified DWI attorney. Your lawyer understands DWI defense and will work tirelessly on your behalf to help you get the best outcome possible.


If you are facing DWI charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. 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.







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