Evansville Law Enforcement Conducting DUI Checkpoint August 4th
You would think that knowing what we know about the dangers of drinking and driving and the fact we have so many more options for getting a safe ride home (ride-sharing services, taxis, etc.) after having "one too many," local law enforcement officers wouldn't need to keep looking for people who are driving when they clearly shouldn't. However, we know that's not the case because we don't live in a perfect world, and it's why Evansville law enforcement agencies are teaming up for a DUI checkpoint this Friday night.
Evansville Area Law Enforcement DUI Checkpoint Scheduled for August 4th
According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "Every day, about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that's one person every 39 minutes." That comes out to 13,505 people per year. It's a staggering number and one that could easily be prevented if people who have been drinking would hand their keys to someone who hasn't been, or if they ordered a ride from Uber or Lyft.
For those who choose not to take either of those options, the Evansville Police Department, Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office, and Indiana State Excise Police will be offering another one that one be nearly as pleasant, a trip to jail.
The three departments will be setting up a DUI checkpoint somewhere in Vanderburgh County on Friday night (August 4th, 2023). The exact location is not being revealed because it would defeat the purpose of setting it up if everyone avoided the area. However, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office did say the location will be in an area known for "a disproportionately high number of reported hit-and-run crashes" based on local traffic collision data compiled over the past six months.
I think it's important to note that the point of the checkpoint isn't to make your life difficult. If you get caught driving drunk, your life will become more difficult because of your poor decision-making. The main point of the checkpoint is to get those of us who make that poor decision off the streets as quickly as possible before we make ourselves or someone else a statistic.
I think it's also important to keep in mind that one of the biggest annual beer festivals in Evansville, the Germania Maennerchor Volksfest, is also happening this weekend on Fulton Avenue. Whether or not the checkpoint will happen somewhere near the location of Volksfest is obviously unknown, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. Regardless of the location and whether or not you plan on stopping by Volksfest, the point is, if you plan on having a few drinks somewhere to unwind on Friday night, don't drive yourself home. The cost of your Uber, Lyft, or cab ride home will be much cheaper than the price you could pay if you do.
Three Rights Indiana Motorists Have at a DUI Checkpoint
Before we get too deep into this, let me be perfectly clear in saying the reason I'm sharing this information is NOT to help you or anyone else avoid getting out of being cited for impaired driving. Nor is it a knock against law enforcement officers. I know several police officers, sheriff's deputies, and state troopers, and they are simply doing what they swore an oath to do, serve and protect the residents of their town/city/county. Again, the purpose of a checkpoint is to keep everyone safe. With that said, let's take a look at how you can make sure you're treated fairly.
First of all, in the event you see a checkpoint up ahead while you're driving one night, you are not required to drive through it. As long as you make a legal move with your vehicle such as turning on a side street ahead of the checkpoint (and indicating you are turning by using your turn signal, of course), you can go around it. Could that cause the officers on site to become suspicious? Maybe. But, not as much as if you were to put the pedal to the floor, squeal the tires, and make an illegal U-turn in the middle of the street.
Right #1 - Unreasonable Length of Time for the Stop
Officers cannot hold you at a checkpoint for an "unreasonable" amount of time if its clear you're not violating any laws. So, what constitutes a reasonable amount of time? Between 30 seconds and two minutes, according to Keffer|Hirschauer. The exception would be if they believe they have evidence you have been drinking such as physical impairments (glassy eyes, slurred speech, etc.), there's an odor of alcohol coming from your car, or they see physical evidence alcohol has been consumed, like an open or empty container.
Right #2 - Not Every Question Needs to Be Answered
According to the Law Offices of Stracci Law Group in Crown Point, Indiana, there is some information you are required to provide in the event you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint including your name, date of birth, current address, and driver’s license. However, you don't have to answer every question the officer asks. For example, where you're going or what you've been doing. You are completely within your rights to refuse to provide any information outside of what you are required by law. Of course, if you choose not to answer a question, do so in a respectful manner to the officer. Getting belligerent or raising your voice in frustration or anger won't do you any favors.
Right #3 - You Can Refuse a Field Sobriety Test
In the event an officer at a checkpoint believes may be a danger to other drivers on the road, they may ask you to step out of your vehicle and go through a field sobriety test. Keffer|Hirschauer notes that an officer may word it in a way that will feel like you have no choice, but you do. Now then, would that seem a bit suspicious? It would to me if I were an officer.
Let's say you refuse. That doesn't mean the officer is just going to let you go. It's important to know officers have another option, and it's one you can't refuse — a chemical test, the most common of which is a breathalyzer test (the modern version of which was invented in Indiana, by the way). You can't refuse that because in Indiana, just by having a driver's license you've given law enforcement "implied consent" to take the test, according to the GDS Law Group.
Gregory A. Miller, an attorney in Ft. Wayne goes on to say, "Your license will be automatically suspended for a minimum of one year. If you have a prior OWI/DUI conviction, your license will be suspended for two years."
You can read more about your rights at a DUI checkpoint on the Keffer|Hirschauer, LLP website.