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What Are DUI Checkpoints and How Does Illinois Use Them?Like most other states in the U.S., Illinois allows law enforcement agencies to set up DUI checkpoints, where officers can stop passing vehicles to look for signs that the driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Twelve states prohibit checkpoints, saying that they violate the drivers’ constitutional rights by stopping them without having to establish reasonable suspicion. Absent a change in Illinois’ law, you need to understand what a DUI checkpoint is and what your rights are when approaching one.

How Do DUI Checkpoints Work?

Normally, a police officer can stop a vehicle only if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is violating the law or the driver shows signs of being a danger to him or herself or others. If an officer stopped a vehicle without a valid reason, any criminal evidence that they found would be inadmissible in the case. With a DUI checkpoint – sometimes called a sobriety checkpoint – officers set up a roadblock at a predetermined location and are allowed to stop any driver who passes through. DUI checkpoints are most common during times of the year such as holiday weekends when people are more likely to be drinking and traveling. Law enforcement departments will often publicize when they will have DUI checkpoints in order to discourage people from drunk driving.

What Are Your Rights?

If you are approaching a DUI checkpoint, it is important to remain calm. You have several rights you can exercise before you reach the point when police may arrest you for driving under the influence:

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Protecting Your Rights During a Traffic StopWhen a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop, a million thoughts may be racing through your head – and none of them are good. The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to remain calm. The officer needed to have reasonable suspicion that you violated a law in order to stop you, but that suspicion is likely limited to a traffic violation. The officer will need more evidence in order to have probable cause to arrest you. Your job during a traffic stop is to behave reasonably and not provide information that may be used against you if you are charged with a crime.

Answering Questions

Allow the police officer to do most of the talking during the stop. It is his or her responsibility to explain the reason for your stop and bring up any suspicions that he or she may have. During your interaction with the officer, you should:

  • Treat the officer with respect;
  • Talk only when the officer has asked you a direct question; and
  • Politely decline to answer any questions that may incriminate you.

Lying to a police officer could lead to additional criminal charges against you if the truth is discovered. You may raise greater suspicion by declining a question, and the officer may arrest you if he or she believes you committed a crime. However, refusing to answer a question is not an admission of guilt.

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