The State of California has strict DUI laws and takes many actions to reduce DUI offenses and DUI recidivism. DUI checkpoints, also called sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks, are a way to identify and catch drunk drivers but also a way to deter drinking and driving. DUI checkpoints are stopping or check points where the police stop the flow of traffic and check drivers for signs of intoxication. These stopping points move around and are temporary, however they are often positioned near areas of high drunk driving activity at times when drunk driving is most likely to be occurring, such as weekend nights or during special events. DUI checkpoints are intrusive and controversial. For this reason, they are highly controlled and there are many federal regulations on DUI checkpoints that the State of California must heed. When stopped at a DUI checkpoint, there are a few things you should know. The checkpoint must be advertised to the public in advance. Usually there are signs posted up prior to the checkpoint. There are also many organizations that try to notify the public of where DUI checkpoints will be and at what time. The checkpoint itself must have signage or some other indicator that it is an officer checkpoint. There should also be adequate safety measures in place. In high traffic areas, it is important the checkpoint does not compromise the safety of drivers on the road. When you are stopped, an officer will first ask to see your license to make sure it is valid. You will then be asked a few questions. These questions will try to identify whether you have been drinking or not. If the officer has reason to believe you have been drinking, you will be given a regular field sobriety test. If you do not comply with this process, there can be serious consequences. Even though it may seem like a violation and an inconvenience, if you do not follow the prompts and instructions of the officer you could be arrested for resisting an officer. The stop should be of a reasonable amount of time and if you have not given the officer any reason to give you a field sobriety test, you should be sent on your way fairly quickly. Unfortunately, even though the stop itself may not take long, the effect they have on traffic can prolong the process of getting through the checkpoint. You may feel that the stop is unconstitutional and that the police have no right to pull you over without probable cause. Officers can and will stop drivers even in absence of signs of drunk driving. As per federal regulations, they must stop drivers arbitrarily (i.e. neutrally). They cannot stop drivers based off of any behavior or sign that may indicate drunk driving. This does contradict the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits search and seizures done without probable cause. However, drunk driving in the State of California, as well as many other states, is so hazardous and comes at such high a cost to society that the DUI checkpoint is somewhat of an exception to the standard of only pulling someone over if there is probably cause. DUI checkpoints are meant to keep, drunk drivers that might not be caught otherwise for a variety of reasons, off the road. DUI checkpoints have proved to be a very effective measure against drunk driving in California. Due to the quasi-unconstitutionality of them, regulations will remain strict to ensure California drivers aren't treated unfairly or stripped of any rights. Because there are so many regulations, there are a lot of potential questions that can be raised by the defense to question the validity of the stop. An experienced DUI defense attorney with knowledge of DUI checkpoint laws can listen to your case and evaluate any possible defense that can be raised in court. DUI checkpoint proponents argue for their effectiveness on keeping drunk drivers off the road but many still question their intrusiveness. DUI checkpoints are still controversial to some and there are a lot of factors to consider in determining their constitutionality and legality for California drivers.
Have you or a loved one been arrested at a DUI checkpoint in the Fresno, Tulare or Kings county area? If you have questions about the charges or why you were arrested, contact experienced California criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team. Experienced in DUI defense, Christopher Martens can help ensure you the best case outcome. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.