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Are DUI checkpoints legal?

DUI checkpoints continue to be very successful in the Tulsa area, but lawyers who handle those cases argue that checkpoints exist on questionable legal grounds.

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL)- DUI checkpoints continue to be very successful in the Tulsa area, but lawyers who handle those cases argue that checkpoints exist on questionable legal grounds.

While no one wants to see drunk drivers on our roads, it's the only offense that allows drivers to be stopped without probable cause.

The U.S. and Oklahoma Supreme Courts have provided special exemptions for the checkpoints.

A checkpoint at 41st Street and Peoria last weekend caught almost 150 people for various offenses. The list included eight DUI arrests and one for public intoxication.

Tulsa DUI attorney Bruce Edge says he's concerned that the deck is stacked against drivers whenever there's a suspicion of alcohol use.

"The chief of the International Chiefs of Police has been quoted on more than one occasion as saying that if we pull you over and you smell alcohol you're going to jail. That's a perversion of the law. The law says it's illegal to be intoxicated and drive," said Edge.

So in the most basic terms, you're at a real disadvantage if you're out driving after having a few drinks. If you smell of alcohol or admit to drinking you can expect to be tested for driving under the influence.

But Edge said you don't have to submit to that testing.

"I'd be polite, I'd be cordial, I would do anything that's lawfully requested of me," said Edge. "But I would not do anything to prove my innocence. I'm an American citizen I do not have to prove my innocence."

Edge also says he'd decline any roadside physical testing because it's a situation that's designed to make you fail. However, under Oklahoma law, you can automatically have your license suspended for refusing.

In court the prosecution also has a lot of advantages, so you should think carefully about what you say to the police.

DUI attorney Melanie Landers says most officers are accurate with their reports but the process is very subjective.

"There are times though where a client tells me that this is the conversation they had with the officer and the report is exactly the opposite," said Landers. "That's why we love the video. If they have a video we're going to get it."

Landers says it might not be a bad idea to make an audio recording with your phone if you're stopped.

It could help to eliminate any confusion later on.

In some states, drivers have tried to avoid checkpoints by holding their driver's license up to the car window.

But according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, that's not an option in this state. The driver's documents must be handed to an officer so they can be checked for authenticity.

But no matter what, the best policy is to avoid drinking and driving so checkpoints are not a concern.

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