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DUI Traffic Stops and Checkpoints in Wheeling, West Virginia
The Police Can Pull You Over
Police officers cannot pull over individuals randomly. There are specific standards they must follow when determining whom and when to stop people. The primary criterion is known as reasonable suspicion, which requires officers to base their decisions on observable facts, such as a driver swerving or failing to adhere to traffic laws.
If your Wheeling WV criminal lawyer can demonstrate that you were stopped unlawfully (without reasonable cause), your DUI charges will be dismissed.
DUI Checkpoints in West Virginia
In West Virginia, DUI checkpoints are commonly referred to as sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks, and they are legally permissible. West Virginia’s authority to conduct these checkpoints is established by the court case State vs. Bauer.
While some argue that these checkpoints infringe upon the rule of reasonable suspicion, courts have consistently upheld their importance in keeping drunk drivers off the road.
During an DUI checkpoint, law enforcement officers stop vehicles to assess drivers for signs of impairment. For a checkpoint to be considered legal, it must meet the following criteria:
- Ample advance warning, including visible lights during nighttime operations.
- Utilization of pre-established policies to ensure neutrality and standardized procedures.
- Setup in a safe and visible location for approaching drivers.
- Presence of police vehicles and uniformed officers at the checkpoint.
The officers conducting the checkpoint should have a predetermined formula for selecting vehicles to stop, whether it is every vehicle, every third vehicle, or another systematic approach.
Officers are authorized to request your name and driver’s license while they may also ask you questions, you are not legally obligated to respond. Additionally, officers can only detain you further if they have reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated.
What Do I Do if the Cops Stop Me?
When faced with a police stop, it’s crucial to prioritize safety for both you and the officer. Always come to a complete stop in a location away from traffic, ideally in a parking lot or side street. If that’s not possible, pull over onto the shoulder as far as you safely can. At night, turn on your dome light to ensure visibility when the officer approaches your vehicle. Remember to turn off any audio distractions and firmly hold the steering wheel.
Now, it’s important to adhere to the legal obligations. Provide the officer with your name, driver’s license, and insurance information as required.
Keep in mind that you are not obligated to answer any additional questions from the officer. If you choose to respond, do so politely and concisely. You always have the right to wait for your Wheeling WV DUI attorney before providing further information.
If you feel that the process is taking too long, you can inquire about leaving. However, do not attempt to drive away if the officer denies your request. Stay in the vehicle unless specifically asked to step out.
Should the need arise to exit the vehicle, remain calm and exit slowly.
In cases where the officer suspects possible intoxication, you might be asked to perform field sobriety tests or submit to a breath test. It is within your rights to refuse, but be aware that there may be penalties. This includes potential suspension of your driver’s license.
Remember, you always have the right to remain silent and decline both field sobriety and chemical tests. However, refusing to answer questions may make it more challenging for the prosecutor to build a case against you. After any arrest, especially if you have declined testing for an DUI, it is advisable to contact a Wheeling WV DUI lawyer for assistance.
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