Law Enforcement Checkpoints: What to Do and What Not to Do

2-1Law Enforcement Checkpoints: What to Do and What Not to Do

The holidays are here, and that means that more people will be traveling on the roads. The police will be out in full force, ensuring traffic safety. In addition, law enforcement may utilize roadside checks to verify sobriety, especially during holiday celebratory times. The goal of checkpoints is to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road. This, in turn, will reduce the number of accidents and injuries due to collisions.


What are Roadside Checkpoints?

Roadside checkpoints are areas set up on the side of a road where police can perform sobriety checks on motorists. Law enforcement sets up checkpoints in specific locations they choose. Then, they require vehicles to stop. The police may ask the driver for their license as well as insurance and registration information. If the police detect alcohol or see alcohol, drugs, weapons, or any illegal items in the vehicle, they may decide to conduct field sobriety tests to determine possible impairment.


Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Is there more than one way for police to charge a person with DWI?”


Are Roadside Checkpoints Legal?

Roadside checkpoints are legal in North Carolina. However, the police must conduct them according to their guidelines. Generally, the police will decide which cars to check and must then follow their rules. For instance, they may decide to check every third vehicle. If they subsequently check other vehicles, they could be going against the rules. If you see a checkpoint, there are some things you need to know to help you stay out of trouble.



What to Do at a Checkpoint

When a driver approaches a checkpoint, they should slow down and pay attention to the officers. The officers will direct vehicles where to go and whether they need to stop. Roll down your window to speak to the officer. Always be polite to officers and answer their questions. Provide law enforcement with your driver’s license and other documentation. Remain in the vehicle unless the officer instructs you otherwise.


What Not to Do at a Checkpoint

If you see a checkpoint ahead, do not turn around or try to avoid it. That often signals to police that you have something to hide. In many cases, there might be another police vehicle ready to stop someone if they willfully avoid a checkpoint or fail to stop. Do not reach around the vehicle or try to hide something. The officer will see your actions as an attempt to prevent their investigation. If the police ask for your name, you are required to provide it. If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, you must comply, or you could be charged with obstructing an officer. Do not try to run from the police. You do not have to perform field sobriety tests, but you must submit to a formal breath test. However, if you do not comply with the police requests, they could detain you or arrest you for suspected DWI, driving while impaired.


If you were charged with DWI, you could face serious penalties. In addition to having your driver’s license suspended, you could also face fines, community service, probation, and be required to attend an alcohol education program, among other things. Take DWI charges seriously and contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to learn how we can help with your defense or find additional resources here.







You Cannot Reason with the Unreasonable. 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.



G.S. 20-138.1 (

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


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