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Maryland DUI Checkpoints: Know Your Rights and How to Protect Yourself

March 30, 2024
Cyndi Christiani

The Maryland State Police and local police forces statewide use DUI checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. But, while DUI checkpoints are legal in Maryland, the officers staffing these checkpoints must follow strict procedures, and they may not search or arrest you in violation of your constitutional rights. Knowing your rights is important to protect yourself if you get stopped.  

Maryland Drivers’ Rights Concerning DUI Checkpoints

So, what are drivers’ rights concerning DUI checkpoints in Maryland? Whether you are a Maryland resident or an out-of-state visitor, your rights include:

  • Advance Notice of the Checkpoint – In Maryland, the police must provide advance notice of an upcoming DUI checkpoint. They must post signs warning of the checkpoint, which must be placed far enough down the road that drivers can turn around safely and legally.
  • No Stop for Legally Turning Around – The police cannot arrest you simply because you turned around to avoid sitting through a DUI checkpoint. Turning around is not evidence that you are driving under the influence. However, the police can still pull you over for making an illegal U-turn or performing another illegal maneuver, so it is important to ensure you follow the law.
  • Freedom From Discrimination – When conducting DUI checkpoints, police officers must follow systematic procedures for choosing which vehicles to stop. They cannot stop you arbitrarily or on a discriminatory basis. Discrimination is prohibited in all scenarios, and the police cannot use a DUI checkpoint as an excuse for violating your rights.
  • The Right to Remain Silent – While the police can require you to provide identification, they cannot require you to say anything about whether you have been drinking or your level of intoxication. You have the right to remain silent, and you should remain silent; if the police officer administering a DUI checkpoint asks whether you have been drinking, you can politely decline to answer.
  • The Right to Refuse Consent to Search Your Vehicle – Just as you do not have to answer any questions, you do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle. You may politely refuse these requests as well, and we suggest that you do not consent to searches. Remaining silent and not consenting to searches are your best avenues for possible trial defenses. Just remember that not consenting and remaining silent does not mean you will not be charged. 
  • The Right to Leave if You Are Not Under Arrest – If the police do not have evidence to suggest that you have been driving under the influence, they do not have grounds to arrest you. If they do not have grounds to arrest you, then they may not detain you any longer than necessary to safely administer the DUI checkpoint in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Maryland law.

Did You Get Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint in Maryland?

Regardless of whether the police violated your rights, if you got arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Maryland, you need experienced legal representation. To discuss your case with defense attorney Cynthia Christiani confidently, call 443-405-8211 or request an appointment online today.