DUI Checkpoints in Hawaii


In Hawaii, DUI checkpoints are conducted on a weekly basis. Police officers will stop vehicles at a predetermined location in an attempt to find drivers who are committing a DUI, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, they believe that the fear of getting stopped at one of these DUI checkpoints will deter drivers from drinking and driving in the first place. Most often, Hawaii DUI checkpoints are set up at times when they believe more people will be drinking, such as late at night, early in the morning, on weekends, and holidays.


Are Hawaii DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?


Although 11 states consider DUI checkpoints illegal, they are legal in the state of Hawaii. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision in the Michigan v. Sitz case that DUI roadblocks are constitutional. It had been argued that they were illegal searches and seizures, which we are protected against under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, but they argued that DUI checkpoints are a justified intrusion that is in the public interest.


Many lawyers don’t agree with this reasoning and call the ruling the “DUI exception to the Constitution.” And even though these roadblocks were only deemed Constitutional for finding people driving under the influence, officers fine more cases of issues like tinted windows, defective tail lights, out-of-date registrations, and expired driver’s licenses, which result in citations and fees for the local government. Interestingly, DUI checkpoints have also been found to be less effective than roaming patrols, yet many states, including Hawaii, continue to use them.


What to Do at a Hawaii DUI Checkpoint


If you are pulled over at a Hawaii DUI checkpoint, the first rule is to be polite! You want to pass the “attitude test,” and you don’t want to give the officer any reason to remember you. But just because you are being respectful doesn’t mean you have to answer all of the questions you are asked. You should always provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, and answer any basic questions about your identity, such as your name and address. But you can refuse to answer other questions, such as where you came from and if you have been drinking. In fact, it’s in your best interest to refuse to answer all questions of this nature because answering some things and avoiding others can actually be more suspicious than politely refusing to answer altogether.


When you are stopped, make sure your hands are where the officer can see them. You want to make him or her feel certain that you are not a threat. You don’t need to roll your window down all the way, since this can make it easier for the officer to smell your breath. And of course, you should always bring your vehicle to a complete stop.


The appropriate protocol for these Hawaii DUI checkpoints is to stop you long enough to determine if you are intoxicated or not. If he or she believes you are, then you may be asked to take a field sobriety test, which can involve walking in a straight line, touching your nose, etc. You are not required to take this test and may politely refuse. Be aware that the test is very subjective, so it’s often not in your best interest to take it. In fact, most Hawaii DUI lawyers will tell you that they are set up for you to fail, so taking the test may increase your risk of a DUI arrest.


What to Do If You Are Arrested at a Hawaii DUI Checkpoint


You should be aware that refusing a breathalyzer test after you have been arrested can result in losing your driver’s license for up to a year – even if you have not had a drop to drink! So it is in your best interest to comply and provide a breath sample. Even if the results come up with a high blood alcohol content, there are ways to dispute this in court with an experienced DUI attorney. Many factors, such as a machine that is improperly calibrated, incorrect administration of the test, and your own body’s physiology, can result in a falsely high reading.


From there, do not answer any additional questions from the police – remember, this information can be used against you! – and ask to consult with a Hawaii DUI lawyer.


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