Maryland and many other states schedule police roadblocks, otherwise known as sobriety checkpoints, throughout the year. Maryland has DUI checkpoints weekly. They are legal under both the state constitution and U.S. Constitution.
It is not uncommon for police to increase their presence on Maryland roadways by upping the frequency and number of DUI checkpoints during the holiday season. Data shows that drunk driving accidents often increase during the holidays. Police hope to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol by implementing checkpoints, often in high-traffic areas.
Probable cause at a DUI checkpoint
Whether Maryland police make a traffic stop or set up a DUI checkpoint, they cannot take someone into custody for suspected drunk driving without establishing probable cause. This is typically done through preliminary alcohol screening tests like a breath test or field sobriety test. Just as a driver is free to refuse to take such tests in a traffic stop, they are not obligatory at a DUI checkpoint. If a person agrees to take such tests and fails, police can make an arrest.
Requirements for a lawful sobriety checkpoint
Many states have requirements that must be met for a DUI checkpoint to be lawful. These often include notifying the public ahead of time that a roadblock will be set up at a specific location and time. However, just because a particular driver was not aware of a checkpoint ahead of time does not mean DUI charges cannot be filed if an arrest takes place.