As Labor Day weekend approaches, law enforcement agencies are planning to set up DUI checkpoints all over Southern California. With that in mind, it is important to know what your rights are with respect to avoiding these checkpoints.
Is It Legal to Turn Around Before Entering a DUI Checkpoint?
Under California law, a driver has the right to avoid entering a DUI checkpoint. California’s Supreme Court has ruled that one of the factors that will determine whether a sobriety checkpoint is constitutionally proper is whether the existence of the checkpoint has been publicized in advance.1 This includes warning signs on the road that you are approaching a checkpoint, visible signs of police authority, and “aggressive” publicity in local media.2
The policy is that drivers are to be made aware of the checkpoint so that the element of surprise is removed, allowing them time to decide to avoid the checkpoint.3 In fact, the lack of an escape route may serve to invalidate the constitutionality of the checkpoint.4 Furthermore, the rule in California is that officers must be “instructed not to pursue motorists who turned their vehicles away before reaching the checkpoint.”5
Remember the Rules of the Road
While turning to avoid a checkpoint is not illegal, many drivers who choose to escape the checkpoint are still pulled over because they commonly forget to drive carefully and within the rules of the road. You must always remember that where there is a checkpoint, there are likely to be other officers patrolling the area as well.
Any violation of a traffic law will give the officers probable cause to stop you. Be sure to avoid making illegal turns, driving onto a sidewalk or median, or even forgetting to use your turn signal. Check that your brake and headlights are functioning properly before you go out for the evening, and be sure your registration tags are current.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today If You Are Stopped for Evading a DUI Checkpoint
If you or someone you know has been arrested for evading a DUI checkpoint, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich today. A DUI conviction based on a checkpoint stop is not always an easy case for the prosecutor to make. Using an effective defense strategy specifically tailored to the facts of your case, we may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. We can help you minimize the consequences and get you the best possible long-term result.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our skilled team of attorneys can help you no matter where your case is pending.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. Ingersoll v. Palmer, (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1321, 743 P.2d 1299. However, lack of publicity alone will not invalidate a checkpoint. People v. Banks, (1993) 6 Cal.4th 926, 949, 25 Cal.Rptr.2d 524.↩
2. National Highway Transportation Safety Board, “Low-Staffing Sobriety Checkpoints,” available at http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/LowStaffing_Checkpoints/images/LowStaffing.pdf”>http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/LowStaffing_Checkpoints/images/LowStaffing.pdf↩
3. Ingersoll, at 1327.↩
4. State v. Binion, 900 S.W.2d 702 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1994).↩
5. Banks, at 932.↩