Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

Can you avoid a sobriety checkpoint? 

A sobriety checkpoint has two goals. First off, officers want to find impaired drivers who go through. Secondly, they want the mere knowledge that a checkpoint may exist to keep people from driving under the influence. 

Under New Jersey law, it is legal for police officers to use sobriety checkpoints, even though some have argued that they’re just random stops — which are otherwise not permitted. So you could encounter these. If you would prefer not to go through them, can you just avoid them?

Make sure you do it legally

Avoiding a checkpoint by turning down a side street or into a parking lot is not illegal. It would be impossible to sort those actively avoiding the checkpoint from those who were heading for that side street or parking lot the entire time. 

You just want to make sure that you don’t do anything illegal. If you’re at the checkpoint, you clearly can’t back up or refuse to cooperate. If you’re approaching it, you don’t want to make an illegal U-turn or head the wrong direction down a one-way street. If you break any traffic laws, that just signals to the officers that you are attempting to avoid them, and they can use those traffic violations as a reason to pull you over. 

What if you do get arrested?

If you get arrested for allegedly making an illegal maneuver to avoid a checkpoint or for driving under the influence and going through that checkpoint, it can have major ramifications. You absolutely need to know what legal defense options you have as you think about your future.

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