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DUI checkpoints: It's just that time of year

The holiday season is quickly coming to a close, but that isn't stopping police in Maryland from staying on the lookout for drunk or otherwise impaired drivers. DUI checkpoints have already taken place in Prince George's County and more are likely to follow. The goal is to keep residents and visitors to the area safe.

If you plan to spend the rest of your holidays out on the town, you may want to prepare yourself in the event police stop you at one of these checkpoints. Do you know how they work? Do you know your rights?

How they work

According to state laws, law enforcement authorities must notify the public in advance of any scheduled DUI checkpoints. News stations and newspaper as well as social media typically post the times and locations of these checkpoints. This gives people the opportunity to avoid them if they want to.

When passing through a DUI checkpoint, you may not have to undergo an inspection. Police may pull over random vehicles, but for the most part, they are looking for drivers exhibiting signs of impairment. If stopped, officers may ask you to participate in sobriety testing. At this point you may refuse. However, you may face any or all of the following penalties if you do:

  • Officers may place you under arrest for suspicion of DUI
  • You may spend time behind bars
  • You may have to submit to testing at a police station or hospital
  • You may lose your license -- even if only temporarily

What you choose to do at a DUI checkpoint is up to you. You have the right to refuse sobriety testing at this point, but there are consequences if you do participate and consequences if you don't.

DUI penalties

Driving under the influence of alcohol is not something that the state treats lightly. If arrested, charged and convicted, the penalties you may face can be significant. They may include a fine, jail time, license suspension or revocation, points on license, alcohol abuse program attendance, and installation of an ignition interlock device. Every case is different.

Defend yourself

If you find yourself facing DUI charges after going through a DUI checkpoint this holiday season, do not lose all hope. A conviction in your case is not guaranteed. You may be able to fight the charges filed against you or, at least, take steps to minimize any consequences associated with a conviction.

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