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Do you know what happens at a DUI checkpoint?

Some people go their entire life without ever driving through a DUI checkpoint. Others, however, seem to encounter these all too often.

Knowing what to expect at a DUI checkpoint in Virginia can go a long way in helping you avoid trouble. There's no way of knowing exactly what an officer will say or do, but there are some basics that typically come into play. Here's what you need to know:

  • Police are watching as you pull up to the checkpoint: Don't assume that police are ignoring you until an officer approaches your window. They're watching drivers as they get closer, paying attention to how they act and whether or not they break any other laws. It's important to slow down, stay in your lane and keep your focus on the task at hand.
  • The face-to-face conversation: The officer will typically start by asking for your driver's license, registration and insurance card. Other questions are common, such as those regarding where you're coming from or where you're headed. Also, it's common to ask if you've been drinking.
  • Looking for signs of impairment: The officer is trained in pinpointing signs of impairment, including but not limited to flushed face, slurred speech, smell of alcohol and bloodshot eyes.
  • Field sobriety test: If there is any reason to believe you have alcohol in your system, the officer may ask you to take a field sobriety test. These include: one leg stand, walk and turn, nystagmus, counting and finger to nose.
  • Breathalyzer test: If you fail a field sobriety test, the officer will then ask you to take a Breathalyzer test. This provides instant information in regard to whether or not you're blood alcohol concentration level is above the legal limit.

If everything checks out, the officer will tell you that you're free to leave. You can then slowly pull away from the checkpoint and continue with your day.

However, if there's evidence that you're under the influence, you're transported to a local station for processing.

As frustrating as it may be, it's critical to obey the officer's instructions and avoid saying anything that could be used against you in the future.

Although a DUI charge is a big deal, as a conviction can result in serious penalties, there are defense strategies you can use to avoid the consequences or reduce the impact on your life.

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