Driving home from the grand opening of a friend's downtown business, we encountered a sobriety checkpoint as cars were exiting Utica's Arterial at the top of the cloverleaf in New Hartford. We had nothing to hide.

When the New York State Trooper asked me if I had been drinking, I said I'd had a half bottle of Saranac Black Cherry Cream Soda, which was the truth. He smiled and sent us on our way.

I wonder how many other folks passed through the checkpoint and if there had been any problems.

There are some generally agreed upon tips for drivers in these situations. The first one is simple: If you've been drinking, don't drive.

But lawyers also have other suggestions, in case you have had a beer or a cocktail.

Make sure your car is functioning properly. If a cop sees a broken taillight or an expired sticker or hears a loud tailpipe, these will call attention to your car and, thereby, to you.

Have your insurance and registration handy. Making the officer wait as you dig around to try and find your papers will only tick him off.

If you've had a drink, roll down your windows before you roll up to the cop. Coming to a stop, then opening your window will give the officer a fuller blast of alcohol smell than airing your car out slightly before you have a conversation.

Know your rights, part oneAttorney William Pangman has a very informative page on the Net regarding driver's rights at DUI roadblocks, including the fact that you are not legally bound to submit to a roadside field test; you may politely decline.

Know your rights, part two. You don't have to admit you were drinking. Even if the police ask a specific question, such as "Were you drinking tonight?" You are not required to answer that question. Among his tips, New York City DUI lawyer Arkady Bukh suggests answering this specific question with your own polite question: "Would you like to see my license?"

One other way to avoid a DUI checkpoint is simply turning your car around. This simple act, if performed neatly and legally in three-point turn fashion, can not be used against you. Safe driving, and good luck out there.


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