A DUI checkpoint is when police officers create a roadblock to check if people have been drinking and driving or are under the influence of drugs. Although police officers typically need a probable cause to stop a vehicle, the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that DUI checkpoints do not require probable cause. DUI checkpoints are “administrative inspections,” just like airport screenings. For such reasons, it is legal for a police officer to stop you at a DUI checkpoint. Being stopped at a DUI checkpoint can be confusing. You might not know what to say or what to do, so our Orange County DUI lawyers explain what you should do at a DUI checkpoint.
How Do DUI Checkpoints Work in California?
The police officers operating the California DUI checkpoint will often section off a portion of the road where vehicles have to merge into before coming to a stop. Once you stop, the officer will ask to roll down the window and will want to see a driver’s license and registration. The officer may also try to engage in a brief conversation to determine if the driver is intoxicated.
Can I Avoid DUI Checkpoints?
Since there is no law that penalizes a driver from avoiding a DUI checkpoint, a driver may turn around to take another route if it can be done safely. In most cases, law enforcement does give drivers sufficient warning to allow them to avoid the checkpoint. Police officers are often prohibited from stopping drivers who try to avoid a checkpoint.
You can try to avoid a sobriety checkpoint, but be aware that you can still get pulled over if you commit a traffic violation while avoiding it or if you display obvious signs of intoxication. It is recommended not to avoid the DUI checkpoint since it can make you look suspicious.
What Should I Do at a DUI Checkpoint?
Have Documentation Ready
If you go through a DUI checkpoint, you should have your documentation ready. This includes your driver’s license, insurance, registration, etc. When you come to a stop, you should roll down your window and provide them with the documentation. Having your driver’s license and registration ready will make the process go much faster.
Be Mindful of Your Conversation
If the police officer asks you questions when you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you should only provide them with the basics. In most cases, they will only ask you if you have been drinking and where you are heading to or from. Be sure not to overshare information that can be used against you.
Know That You Can Refuse Pre-Arrest Breath Tests
You are not required to comply with the police officer’s instructions during a DUI checkpoint stop. You can refuse to submit a field sobriety test or a pre-arrest breath test. However, refusing to comply can result in a California misdemeanor.
Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint
California DUI checkpoints should be temporary and random. Sobriety checkpoints are legal, but they must abide by the Supreme Court and California Consitution. The following standards must be met at a California DUI checkpoint:
- Supervising officers must make all operational decisions
- The motorist they choose to stop must be neutral and random
- The checkpoints must be reasonably located
- The checkpoint stops should be made in a timely manner
- Roadblocks should be publically announced in advance
Vehicle Impoundment at DUI Checkpoints
In the past, California law allowed police officers to impound vehicles of unlicensed drivers at California DUI checkpoints. However, since 2012 police officers can no longer automatically impound vehicles of unlicensed drivers. If you come across a DUI checkpoint and you don’t have your license with you, your car won’t be impounded.
Know About DUI Checkpoints in Advance
Law enforcement officials typically announce DUI checkpoints in advance. This includes announcing where and when the roadblocks will be held. This information will be announced on police websites, the local newspaper, news websites, and local TV news.
Arrested at a DUI Check Point?
If you or your loved one were arrested at an Orange County DUI checkpoint, you should contact an experienced attorney right away. When you’re facing DUI charges, you need strong legal representation to protect your rights and help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed. An experienced attorney can create a strong legal defense on your behalf and guide you through the process from beginning to end. You should have an attorney who specializes specifically in DUI cases so that they can develop the strongest and most strategic defense possible.
Call Our Orange County DUI Defense Attorney!
Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. is the leading DUI defense legal team in Orange County. Our team is dedicated to providing aggressive and personalized legal counsel to clients who have been arrested for driving under the influence. When you hire our team, you can rest assured that you will receive the guidance and representation you need to get the best possible results for your case. We can protect your rights in both a criminal court and at DMV hearings. No matter how complex your case is, there is nothing our team can not handle.
Call our Orange County DUI defense lawyers today at (949) 537-2202 to schedule a consultation!