From candles in windows to brightly lit office towers, festive lights are a staple of most holiday celebrations. But in the words of the immortal Junior Brown, there are some party lights that no one wants to see. Now that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic seems to be fading on the horizon, law enforcement officers will be even more aggressive on area roads over the upcoming New Years holiday. Additionally, DUI roadblocks, which are a staple of holiday drunk driving law enforcement, will be back this year.
COVID-19 has shared the headlines this year with confrontations between officers and citizens which ended very badly for most everyone concerned. So, comply now and complain later is usually the best attitude to take in these situations. In this post, we’ll look at some ways you can do just that.
Fizer Bonding Company plays a critical role in this process. People who remain in jail are essentially voiceless. If a Clarksville TN bonding company such as Fizer, secures pretrial release, it is much easier to assert your Constitutional rights. But we do more than get people out of jail. We also give people like you and your loved ones a free bail bond consultation and answers to common questions about the criminal justice and bail bond process. This combination of powerful services is unavailable anywhere else.
Your Rights at a DUI Stop
Most people are familiar with the Fifth Amendment and the right to remain silent. But many people do not know when this right kicks in if they are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, and they do not know how broad it is.
When custodial interrogation begins, your right to remain silent begins as well. In this context, “custody” means the suspect does not feel free to leave when the officer has pulled him/her over. Most people do not feel free to drive away once they see the aforementioned police party lights swirling in their rear view mirrors. “Interrogation” does not just mean questions about DUI. This word usually means asking any questions at all, even if they seem innocuous.
The Fifth Amendment allows people to refuse to say anything and it also allows them to refuse to do anything. In this context, that includes performing the walk-and-turn, touch your nose, hold your left leg up, and other DUI field sobriety tests. Realize that if you do refuse to perform these tests, officers will almost certainly arrest you. But if you got to this point after you were pulled over, an arrest was probably inevitable anyway. If you are arrested in any of these situations, the Montgomery County bonding company, Fizer Bonding Company can normally secure your jail release within just a few hours.
Your Constitutional rights are not absolute. All suspects must identify themselves to officers, produce certain documents upon request, like a drivers’ license, and obey rudimentary “step out of the car” commands.
Furthermore, suspects must clearly know how to clearly assert their rights in a way that the officer knows what your intention is. Cases like 2010’s Berghuis v. Tompkins created a duty to clearly assert one’s Constitutional rights. Simply standing quietly could be construed as a waiver of your Fifth Amendment rights.
Your Rights at a DUI Roadblock
Roughly these same rules apply at DUI roadblocks. Motorists must stop if officers direct them to stop. Furthermore, they must produce documents for inspection, usually a drivers’ license and proof of insurance.
However, motorists do not have to answer any questions. In fact, they do not even need to roll down their windows. I have not personally tested out holding up my drivers license on my drivers side window and proof of registration and insurance papers. But hey, during these corona-era days and social distancing, it might be seen by law enforcement as perfectly acceptable. And, although motorists must pull into the inspection area and step out of the car, they need not perform field sobriety tests.
If you radically assert your rights like this, always convey, in some way, your reliance on the Fifth Amendment.
DUI Stop Requirements
During spring and summer 2020, most law enforcement agencies largely stopped pulling over motorists for minor violations like speeding or rolling through a red light. As mentioned, this grace period is probably now over. Nevertheless, these stops must still meet certain legal requirements.
Officers must have reasonable suspicion to detain motorists. Generally, traffic violations serve as reasonable suspicion, even the ticky-tack infractions buried deep within the vehicle code. This issue is a bit more complex if officers relied on something like an informer’s tip or the suspect’s nervous glances in the rear view mirror.
Next, officers must have probable cause for the arrest. The field sobriety tests, which officers invariably claim the defendant “failed,” almost always serve as probable cause. So, if the defendant refuses to perform these tests, the arrest might not hold up in court, due to a lack of probable cause.
Unless Montgomery and Robertson county defendants immediately reach out to nearby bail bond company, Fizer Bonding Company, these important rights are largely irrelevant. Most incarcerated defendants immediately plead guilty, whether or not they are guilty, in order to just “get it over with” and get out of jail and go home.
DUI Roadblock Requirements
The reasonable suspicion requirement does not apply at DUI checkpoints. But officers cannot randomly pull over motorists or detain them because they don’t look right. Sobriety checkpoints in Tennessee must follow very specific rules. For example:
- ONLY a police supervisor, like a captain or police chief, can authorize roadblocks. In this way, and in other ways as well, DUI roadblocks are a lot different from speed traps.
- Before they set up checkpoints, officers must sufficiently publicize them, to give people a chance to avoid the area altogether.
- The checkpoints must have adequate signage (e.g. “DUI Checkpoint Ahead”) and plenty of lighting. Additionally, traffic cones should be set up at least several hundred feet in front of the actual checkpoint.
- Officers must use a set formula to pull over motorists, such as every third or fourth car. They may only deviate from the formula if traffic backs up.
- Detention times cannot be unreasonably long. There is no set rule here, but generally, any delay more than about thirty seconds is unreasonably long. That includes the time waiting in line and the time at the checkpoint.
Many of these requirements seem inconsequential. But if the roadblock fails to meet any of them, it is illegal under Tennessee law. Consequently, the stop and arrest would also be illegal, under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.
For more information about bonding out of jail for a New Years DUI arrest, contact Fizer Bonding Company. Our family-owned bonding service has filled the bonding needs of Montgomery and Robertson Counties for over 40 years. Fizer Bonding Company is a proud member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents. For more info about Fizer Bonding Company bail bonds to “get your tail outta jail”, click here.
“We’ll get your tail outta jail!”
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