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Jaylene Trivino, Attorney at Law

Trivino's 2 cents

It’s a blog, about the law, written by an attorney…

Checkpoints, roadblocks, tickets, arrests...what to do if it happens to you

It’s a blog, about the law, written by an attorney…

jtrivino@trivinolaw.com | 704.413.1344

What is a checkpoint?

In North Carolina, checkpoints a/k/a roadblocks are just one way for police to enforce the laws. Police are allowed to setup and conduct a checking station on a street or road. Checking stations are used to determine if the driver or the passengers are breaking the law. However, there are many laws the police must follow when conducting a checking station or roadblock.

What should you do if you see a checkpoint?

You should remain calm. Also, do NOT make an illegal u-turn to avoid the checkpoint because doing so increases your chances of more tickets or criminal charges. If you are the driver, then the police will ask you to present proof of your driver’s license.

What happens if the police smell alcohol on your breath?

Under the law, if the police have reasonable suspicion to believe that you are impaired because of alcohol, then the police can detain you to evaluate how impaired you are at that moment. If the police determine that the driver is impaired, then the driver will probably get arrested for Driving Under the Influence. Common abbreviations for Driving Under the Influence are DUI and DWI. Contact an attorney immediately to find out what steps you should take before your 1st court date.

What happens if the police see a beer can or bottle inside the car?

If this happens, then you will probably get a ticket and a court date for “Possession of Open Container,” otherwise known as “Transporting an open container of alcoholic beverage.” Also, you risk getting arrested because “Possession of Open Container” is a misdemeanor. A conviction for “Possession of Open Container” can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license, points on your DMV record, an increase of your car insurance premium, court costs and fines. Don’t let an alcohol-related conviction hinder the success of your future. Reach out to an attorney to discuss your options and the legal consequences that you face.

What happens if the police smell marijuana in your car?

Many things can happen. One scenario: the police will search your car for the marijuana. Possession of marijuana is a crime in North Carolina, and it carries serious legal consequences if a conviction is on your record. Sometimes a person qualifies to get the case dismissed by participating in a diversion program. Another scenario: If the driver is younger than 21, then the driver risks getting arrested for consuming marijuana before driving — sometimes referred to as “Driving after consuming less than 21” or “Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs.” This is a very serious criminal charge that carries hefty consequences. The DMV will suspend your driver’s license if you are convicted of “Driving after consuming less than 21.” In some cases, a person may qualify for a special license to travel to work or school. This is known as a “Limited Driving Privilege.” Reach out to an attorney before your 1st court date to discuss your options and legal rights.

What happens if the police arrested you?

If the police arrested you for something that happened at a checking station or roadblock, then you must call an attorney to find out about your legal options, Constitutional rights, and the potential consequences that you face. Go to the court’s website to find out your court date. Click here for the link, www.nccourts.gov/court-dates. Do not miss your court date!

Final thoughts….

Remember, remain calm. Always consult with an attorney before you make a legal decision…even if it is about a simple speeding ticket or “drinking” ticket. Don’t let a bad decision follow you around and negatively effect your livelihood. Take control of your case by hiring an experienced lawyer.

Written by Jaylene Trivino, Esq.

Disclaimer: The content above is Jaylene Trivino’s legal opinion.


Trivino Law PLLC offers 15-minute free telephone consultations. Call/Text/Email today to find out how Trivino Law PLLC can fight for you. #FightingForYou


Click here for the link to the North Carolina law on checking stations and roadblocks.

Click here for the link to the North Carolina law on “Possession of Open Container.” Titled: “Transporting an open container of alcoholic beverage.”

Click here for the link to the North Carolina law on “Driving after consuming less than 21.” Titled:Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs.”

I also copied & pasted the laws mentions above…for your viewing pleasure…

North Carolina General Statute § 20-16.3A. Checking stations and roadblocks.

(a) A law-enforcement agency may conduct checking stations to determine compliance with the provisions of this Chapter. If the agency is conducting a checking station for the purposes of determining compliance with this Chapter, it must:

(1) Repealed by Session Laws 2006-253, s. 4, effective December 1, 2006, and applicable to offenses committed on or after that date.

(2) Designate in advance the pattern both for stopping vehicles and for requesting drivers that are stopped to produce drivers license, registration, or insurance information.

(2a) Operate under a written policy that provides guidelines for the pattern, which need not be in writing. The policy may be either the agency's own policy, or if the agency does not have a written policy, it may be the policy of another law enforcement agency, and may include contingency provisions for altering either pattern if actual traffic conditions are different from those anticipated, but no individual officer may be given discretion as to which vehicle is stopped or, of the vehicles stopped, which driver is requested to produce drivers license, registration, or insurance information. If officers of a law enforcement agency are operating under another agency's policy, it must be stated in writing.

(3) Advise the public that an authorized checking station is being operated by having, at a minimum, one law enforcement vehicle with its blue light in operation during the conducting of the checking station.

(a1) A pattern designated by a law enforcement agency pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall not be based on a particular vehicle type, except that the pattern may designate any type of commercial motor vehicle as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(3d). The provisions of this subsection shall apply to this Chapter only and are not to be construed to restrict any other type of checkpoint or roadblock which is lawful and meets the requirements of subsection (c) of this section.

(b) An officer who determines there is a reasonable suspicion that an occupant has violated a provision of this Chapter, or any other provision of law, may detain the driver to further investigate in accordance with law. The operator of any vehicle stopped at a checking station established under this subsection may be requested to submit to an alcohol screening test under G.S. 20-16.3 if during the course of the stop the officer determines the driver had previously consumed alcohol or has an open container of alcoholic beverage in the vehicle. The officer so requesting shall consider the results of any alcohol screening test or the driver's refusal in determining if there is reasonable suspicion to investigate further.

(c) Law enforcement agencies may conduct any type of checking station or roadblock as long as it is established and operated in accordance with the provisions of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of North Carolina.

(d) The placement of checkpoints should be random or statistically indicated, and agencies shall avoid placing checkpoints repeatedly in the same location or proximity. This subsection shall not be grounds for a motion to suppress or a defense to any offense arising out of the operation of a checking station. (1983, c. 435, s. 22; 2006-253, s. 4; 2011-216, s. 1.)

§ 20-138.7. Transporting an open container of alcoholic beverage.

(a) Offense. - No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway or the right-of-way of a highway:

(1) While there is an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area in other than the unopened manufacturer's original container; and

(2) While the driver is consuming alcohol or while alcohol remains in the driver's body.

(a1) Offense. - No person shall possess an alcoholic beverage other than in the unopened manufacturer's original container, or consume an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is on a highway or the right-of-way of a highway. For purposes of this subsection, only the person who possesses or consumes an alcoholic beverage in violation of this subsection shall be charged with this offense.

(a2) Exception. - It shall not be a violation of subsection (a1) of this section for a passenger to possess an alcoholic beverage other than in the unopened manufacturer's original container, or for a passenger to consume an alcoholic beverage, if the container is:

(1) In the passenger area of a motor vehicle that is designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation;

(2) In the living quarters of a motor home or house car as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(27)k.; or

(3) In a house trailer as defined in G.S. 20-4.01(14).

(a3) Meaning of Terms. - Under this section, the term "motor vehicle" means any vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public highways and includes mopeds.

(b) Subject to Implied-Consent Law. - An offense under this section is an alcohol-related offense subject to the implied-consent provisions of G.S. 20-16.2.

(c) Odor Insufficient. - The odor of an alcoholic beverage on the breath of the driver is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that alcohol was remaining in the driver's body in violation of this section, unless the driver was offered an alcohol screening test or chemical analysis and refused to provide all required samples of breath or blood for analysis.

(d) Alcohol Screening Test. - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alcohol screening test may be administered to a driver suspected of violating subsection (a) of this section, and the results of an alcohol screening test or the driver's refusal to submit may be used by a law enforcement officer, a court, or an administrative agency in determining if alcohol was present in the driver's body. No alcohol screening tests are valid under this section unless the device used is one approved by the Commission for Public Health, and the screening test is conducted in accordance with the applicable regulations of the Commission as to the manner of its use.

(e) Punishment; Effect When Impaired Driving Offense Also Charged. - Violation of subsection (a) of this section shall be a Class 3 misdemeanor for the first offense and shall be a Class 2 misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. Violation of subsection (a) of this section is not a lesser included offense of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1, but if a person is convicted under subsection (a) of this section and of an offense involving impaired driving arising out of the same transaction, the punishment imposed by the court shall not exceed the maximum applicable to the offense involving impaired driving, and any minimum applicable punishment shall be imposed. Violation of subsection (a1) of this section by the driver of the motor vehicle is a lesser-included offense of subsection (a) of this section. A violation of subsection (a) shall be considered a moving violation for purposes of G.S. 20-16(c).

Violation of subsection (a1) of this section shall be an infraction and shall not be considered a moving violation for purposes of G.S. 20-16(c).

(f) Definitions. - If the seal on a container of alcoholic beverages has been broken, it is opened within the meaning of this section. For purposes of this section, "passenger area of a motor vehicle" means the area designed to seat the driver and passengers and any area within the reach of a seated driver or passenger, including the glove compartment. The area of the trunk or the area behind the last upright back seat of a station wagon, hatchback, or similar vehicle shall not be considered part of the passenger area. The term "alcoholic beverage" is as defined in G.S. 18B-101(4).

(g) Pleading. - In any prosecution for a violation of subsection (a) of this section, the pleading is sufficient if it states the time and place of the alleged offense in the usual form and charges that the defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway or the right-of-way of a highway with an open container of alcoholic beverage after drinking.

In any prosecution for a violation of subsection (a1) of this section, the pleading is sufficient if it states the time and place of the alleged offense in the usual form and charges that (i) the defendant possessed an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle was on a highway or the right-of-way of a highway, or (ii) the defendant consumed an alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle was on a highway or the right-of-way of a highway.

(h) Limited Driving Privilege. - A person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) of this section and whose drivers license is revoked solely based on that conviction may apply for a limited driving privilege as provided for in G.S. 20-179.3. The judge may issue the limited driving privilege only if the driver meets the eligibility requirements of G.S. 20-179.3, other than the requirement in G.S. 20-179.3(b)(1)c. G.S. 20-179.3(e) shall not apply. All other terms, conditions, and restrictions provided for in G.S. 20-179.3 shall apply. G.S. 20-179.3, rather than this subsection, governs the issuance of a limited driving privilege to a person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) of this section and of driving while impaired as a result of the same transaction. (1995, c. 506, s. 9; 2000-155, s. 4; 2002-25, s. 1; 2006-66, s. 21.7; 2007-182, s. 2; 2013-348, s. 4; 2017-102, s. 5.2(b).)

§ 20-138.3. Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs.

(a) Offense. - It is unlawful for a person less than 21 years old to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area while consuming alcohol or at any time while he has remaining in his body any alcohol or controlled substance previously consumed, but a person less than 21 years old does not violate this section if he drives with a controlled substance in his body which was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.

(b) Subject to Implied-Consent Law. - An offense under this section is an alcohol-related offense subject to the implied-consent provisions of G.S. 20-16.2.

(b1) Odor Insufficient. - The odor of an alcoholic beverage on the breath of the driver is insufficient evidence by itself to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that alcohol was remaining in the driver's body in violation of this section unless the driver was offered an alcohol screening test or chemical analysis and refused to provide all required samples of breath or blood for analysis.

(b2) Alcohol Screening Test. - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alcohol screening test may be administered to a driver suspected of violation of subsection (a) of this section, and the results of an alcohol screening test or the driver's refusal to submit may be used by a law enforcement officer, a court, or an administrative agency in determining if alcohol was present in the driver's body. No alcohol screening tests are valid under this section unless the device used is one approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the screening test is conducted in accordance with the applicable regulations of the Department as to its manner and use.

(c) Punishment; Effect When Impaired Driving Offense Also Charged. - The offense in this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. It is not, in any circumstances, a lesser included offense of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1, but if a person is convicted under this section and of an offense involving impaired driving arising out of the same transaction, the aggregate punishment imposed by the court may not exceed the maximum applicable to the offense involving impaired driving, and any minimum punishment applicable shall be imposed.

(d) Limited Driving Privilege. - A person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) of this section and whose drivers license is revoked solely based on that conviction may apply for a limited driving privilege as provided in G.S. 20-179.3. This subsection shall apply only if the person meets both of the following requirements:

(1) Is 18, 19, or 20 years old on the date of the offense.

(2) Has not previously been convicted of a violation of this section.

The judge may issue the limited driving privilege only if the person meets the eligibility requirements of G.S. 20-179.3, other than the requirement in G.S. 20-179.3(b)(1)c. G.S. 20-179.3(e) shall not apply. All other terms, conditions, and restrictions provided for in G.S. 20-179.3 shall apply. G.S. 20-179.3, rather than this subsection, governs the issuance of a limited driving privilege to a person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) of this section and of driving while impaired as a result of the same transaction. (1983, c. 435, s. 34; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 852, s. 11; 1993, c. 539, s. 364; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1995, c. 506, s. 6; 1997-379, ss. 4, 5.2; 2000-140, s. 7; 2000-155, s. 18; 2006-253, s. 11.)