Certain types of law enforcement encounters are not voluntary. Someone who sees the flashing lights of a police cruiser behind them in traffic generally needs to pull over for a traffic stop. However, other enforcement actions give drivers an opportunity to make a choice.
Consider DUI checkpoints. New Jersey police departments can potentially conduct driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoints to screen drivers for signs of intoxication. DUI checkpoints can result in dozens of arrests in a matter of a few hours. They are theoretically legal provided that police officers follow certain rules. Many New Jersey drivers feel panicked when they approach a checkpoint even if they only had a single beer during dinner. Is it legal to intentionally avoid a DUI checkpoint?
Drivers can choose a different route
People on the road are free to choose where and how they drive, so long as they comply with all relevant traffic laws. Therefore, they can potentially drive away from a DUI checkpoint without passing through it.
Most police departments try their best to place DUI checkpoints at locations that see a high volume of traffic. They may intentionally choose locations that are harder for people to avoid upon approach. However, provided that there is a corner where someone can turn or an exit that they can take, it is theoretically legal for someone to knowingly avoid passing through a DUI checkpoint or most other police roadblocks.
Sometimes, overly-zealous drivers might conduct aggressive or illegal maneuvers which could then prompt a targeted traffic stop. Police officers helping to conduct checkpoints sometimes communicate with other officers nearby when they notice someone trying to avoid the checkpoint.
Are checkpoint-related convictions inevitable?
Someone stopped at a DUI checkpoint may face enhanced screening if they admit to having a drink or make officers suspect intoxication. The state could pursue DUI charges against them if they fail field sobriety tests or a chemical breath test., but those arrested at a checkpoint may have multiple options for defending themselves against their pending charges.
Reviewing the state’s evidence and checkpoint paperwork with a skilled criminal defense attorney can help people start planning for a New Jersey DUI defense strategy.