Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Checkpoints have a checkered past in the United States. Some states outlaw them completely, others have statutory limitations, and others have statutes which are relatively mute on the subject. Arizona is one of the latter states, where checkpoints have few limitations and are a reality of life in our fair state.
In Arizona a DUI checkpoint is essentially a roadblock. The roadway will be blocked off with police cruisers and a thin line each way will be allowed to pass through. Cars are stopped based on a mathematical formula, rather than appearance of the driver or car. Once a car is selected, they will be asked for their license and registration. If the driver appears nervous, is fumbling, or smells like alcohol or drugs, they may be asked to go to a secondary inspection station. More on that later.
The most important thing to remember, for both driver and passengers, is to remain calm. It is a good idea to have your license and registration easily accessible, so your nerves do not make you out to look like a drunk driver. Just a little adrenaline can make pulling your wallet out of your back pocket and your license out of the plastic screen to be a difficult endeavor. All passengers should remain quiet, and should not volunteer any information. Of course, open containers should always be avoided, and if found during a DUI checkpoint will immediately flag suspicion in the officer.
The officers will be looking for slurred speech, glassy eyes, the smell of drugs or alcohol, fumbling, or other drunken behaviors. Generally, a driver who quickly presents his license and registration with no smells or strange behaviors will have a brief encounter with Arizona’s police force.
Should the police instruct you to head to a secondary inspection station, you should calmly place the car into gear and drive (carefully!) to the area (it may be tented). From this point you are effectively under the same rules as a DUI stop. You will be asked how many drinks you have had, and several other questions to ascertain whether or not you are “under the influence.”
Should you be arrested for DUI in Arizona, do not give up all hope. Cooperate with the police, but do not volunteer information which may incriminate you. Remember your fifth amendment rights, and stick to them. Once you are released from custody, contact an Arizona DUI lawyer for a consultation on your rights and whether or not they can represent you.