St. Patrick’s Day is an annual Irish holiday Americans celebrate with massive parades and let us not forget, the trademark Guinness and green-colored lager beer. People join drinking contests in participating pubs, chugging that green beer as if their lives depended on it. If they are considering driving home after, their lives may very well depend on how much their bodies can tolerate the amount of alcohol. Last weekend’s festivities were no different from all the years before.
Because people use St. Paddy’s day as an excuse to indulge in binge drinking, New jersey has gone so far as to establish sobriety checkpoints on this very day. Officers can stop you even if you do not show any signs of driving under the influence (DUI).
What happens in a sobriety checkpoint?
Other states perceive sobriety checkpoints as unconstitutional because it infringes on a driver’s right to privacy. But keep in mind that this is a checkpoint, and the arresting officer did not stop you due to suspicion. Usually, the officer will just ask you to slow down your car and lower your window. The officer will then converse with you to try and gauge if you have had anything to drink. You have the right not to say anything and to keep the conversation as brief as possible. If the officer suspects that you have been drinking, they can ask you to submit to a field sobriety test.
Standards for sobriety checkpoints
Police officers cannot create a checkpoint just anywhere and anytime they want. It must be a specific area, targeting a time and day directed by the commanding officer. A sobriety checkpoint has certain standards. Police protocol requires a report on what the checkpoint hopes to accomplish, considering the factors that gave rise to its establishment. Police officers must notify drivers that there is a checkpoint in that area via roadblocks and traffic signages. They should be unbiased and maintain a neutral tone when stopping drivers.
If an officer decides to pull you over on the next St. Patrick’s Day, you now know to just keep calm and be levelheaded. It could just be a routine procedure.