Question: Does Maryland utilize DUI roadblocks or checkpoints?
Answer: Yes. Maryland does utilize checkpoints a lot. It depends on the jurisdiction, but checkpoints are very common. They’re very common on heavy travel nights: Super Bowl night, New Years Eve, Christmas Eve, those kind of days when there’s a lot of people on the road. But there’s a lot of factors—they are deemed Constitutional as long as certain factors are followed. The first factor is that you need to have a point of egress and ingress after seeing the notice of the roadblock; so, there has to be a way to leave and not participate in the roadblock and checkpoint.
Once you’ve approached the checkpoint, you do have the ability to not roll down your window and drive on—they cannot force you to roll down your window. But they also need to be able to prove that there’s a reason for the checkpoint. So, they need actually the commander who ordered it and they need to have an actual explanation for why they ordered it—say, that there was a high number of DUIs that year there, or that there was some fatal accident there prior to. So that person would need to come to court as well.
They also need to prove that they broadcast it to the public that there was going to be a checkpoint. So the media relations officer or the officer who put it in the newspaper or put it on TV or the radio needs to actually come into court and testify that they notified the public that there was going to be a checkpoint. They also need to check every car; they can’t just stop randomly or pick which cars. They’ve got to stop every car, and the way they get around making it for the community is they hand out pamphlets for DUI and that kind of stuff. But you can refuse to take them and keep your window up. And then what generally happens is someone in the front of it, if they notice or smell any alcohol they’ll direct the person to the other side, then the officer does a field sobriety test just like they normally would.
But you can’t be forced to get out of your car prior to rolling down your window, you can’t be forced to roll down your window. They are deemed Constitutional if they follow all of these criteria. It is very rare for them to be able, if you have a good attorney, it’s very rare for them to prove a checkpoint case unless they have all of these individuals available, which is very hard for a state’s attorneys office to get four officers or three officers in court on the same day. So, it can be hard for the state to prove, but they are deemed Constitutional.