NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A Fourth of July DWI Checkpoint caught on camera goes viral with more than three million views on YouTube. In the video, a person goes through a Tennessee checkpoint and points out various ways they claim officers violate their constitutional rights.
The person claims officers searched his car without consent and asked him questions when he wasn't required to answer. That had wect.com asking, What are your rights when it comes to checkpoints here in North Carolina?
Lawyers at the McGee Law Firm in Downtown Wilmington say it's important to know your rights. They say there are certain things you have to do, and other things you can respectfully decline to do at checkpoints.
Authorities and lawyers agree that when you go through a checkpoint in North Carolina, you are required to stop, talk to the officer and show them a valid Driver's License. But after that, Lawyer James McGee says you don't have to answer any extra questions.
"The officer may not like it, but it is your right to respectfully decline to not answer any questions," said McGee. He says after you present the proper documents, you should ask if you can leave. If officers don't have a reason to suspect you of being impaired, he says it's against your constitutional right to continue to further detain you.
"The argument I can make is at this suspiciousless stop, a checkpoint, that they have detained me for longer than the checkpoint was supposed to be, they have to prove that they have suspicion to further detain me and that's where the problem lies," explained McGee.
He says if officers do not have reasonable suspicion, they can't make you get out of your car or search your car without consent. He also says you have the right to say no to a field sobriety test and a portable breathalyzer test. However, he says if you refuse to blow into an intoxometer at the police station, your licence will be taken.
While you have the right to say no to answering further questions, officers in New Hanover County says could raise red flags and bring about more investigation.
"If you refuse or try to hinder the situation or delay the process that's going to raise red flags, they'll want to know why you are avoiding this," said Sgt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
On mobile? Click here to watch the video from the Tennessee checkpoint.
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