What to Know About California DUI Checkpoints

Wed 8th April, 2020 Criminal Law

DUI checkpoints are one of the most popular methods used by California police to arrest and charge drivers with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, drivers arrested at checkpoints may be able to challenge the constitutionality of their arrest in court. Both state and federal law have certain requirements for DUI checkpoints that if not met could mean that your arrest is thrown out and the charges dropped against you. At the Law Offices of Bradley S. Sandler in Los Angeles, our highly qualified criminal defense attorney has years of experience aggressively advocating for the rights of our clients accused and arrested of driving under the influence at a checkpoint. To schedule a free consultation of your case, call or contact our office today.

California Guidelines for a DUI Checkpoint

California case law established the eight functional guidelines for DUI checkpoints that police must abide by in order to avoid constitutional scrutiny of their arrests. If even one guideline is not followed, the driver arrested may have a constitutional claim to throw out the arrest. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Supervising officers must make all operational decisions
  • The criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral
  • The checkpoint must be reasonably located
  • Adequate safety precautions must be taken
  • The checkpoint’s time and duration should reflect good judgment
  • The checkpoint must be obvious enough of its official nature
  • Drivers should be detained for a minimal amount of time, and
  • Roadblocks should be publicly advertised in advance

Typically, a DUI checkpoint is a sectioned off piece of roadway that merges multiple lanes of traffic into one lane before having the vehicle come to a stop. The police will have the driver roll down their window and ask for both registration as well as a driver’s license. The police will usually engage in a discussion with the driver to assess whether they believe the driver is inebriated.

Cooperation at a DUI Checkpoint

It is important for a driver to know that if they are approaching a DUI checkpoint, a driver has the right to intentionally avoid it. However, the driver must operate the vehicle in a safe manner to avoid the checkpoint and can be stopped if the driver makes an illegal traffic maneuver to avoid the checkpoint. Police are not allowed to stop a driver simply because they chose to avoid the DUI checkpoint, but are allowed to stop a driver if they commit a traffic violation, have a defect on their vehicle like a broken taillight, or display obvious signs of intoxication.

If a driver does come upon a DUI checkpoint, they are required by state law to comply with a police officer’s instructions. However, a driver does not have to submit to field sobriety tests or pre-arrest chemical tests such as breath or cheek swabs. Once an arrest is made, however, refusing a chemical test post-arrest is considered an offense and can result in the driver’s license being automatically suspended for one year.

Talk to Our Office

If you would like to learn more about DUI checkpoints or believe that you were unconstitutionally arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, call or contact the Law Offices of Bradley S. Sandler today.