A controversial way to avoid a sobriety checkpoint is going viral on the internet after a man is waved through without having to talk to police.
At a typical DUI checkpoint, the driver pulls up, rolls down a window and talks to a police officer while he or she determines if there’s probable cause to give the driver a field sobriety test.
But Florida lawyer Warren Redlich came up with a loophole that lawyers are calling “constitutionally legal.”
In a YouTube video posted by Redlich, he drives up to a checkpoint with his windows rolled up and puts up a form from FairDUI.org that reads, “I remain silent. No searches. I want my lawyer.” He then showed his driver’s license, and the officer appears to call another officer over.
That officer reads the form and then waves Redlich through the checkpoint without any issues.
As the video and so-called technique continues to spread, San Diego DUI attorney and former prosecutor Mark Deniz says constitutionally, it’s OK.
"Someone doesn't have to talk to anybody if they don't want to,” said Deniz. “Someone can be rude, that's the right of a citizen is to be rude to anybody else. That's our protective rights."
But he added a caveat: it’s legal, but not practical.
He explained that using the placard and refusing to speak to police may protect you from a DUI, “but be prepared to be arrested even if you're under .08."
According to Sgt. Ernie Servin with San Diego Police Department’s Traffic Division, California vehicle code 2814.2 says drivers must stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint.
Deniz said trying the technique will likely bring more attention to the driver and could cause more problems than if the driver just talked to the officer.
"When that officer sees you about two or three car lengths down, and they see that little placard hanging out there, you are going to bring bells and whistles and you are going to attract those officers,” Deniz said. “And you're going to be attracting the sergeant who's in charge of that, and they will be investigating you, to where a lot of times you could probably pass through a checkpoint uninterrupted."
Servin said the police department wants to encourage people to be wise and not drink at all before driving. Everyone’s body absorbs alcohol differently, he cautioned, and it isn’t worth the risk of injury or worse, death.
The department holds an average of 57 checkpoints annually and has recently hosted My BAC programs, where the public can test their blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer.