March 29, 2023 By Matthew Wallin

If you see signage warning you to slow down and prepare to stop, you may be approaching a DUI checkpoint. If you are caught driving drunk by law enforcement at one of these checkpoints, you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence. For this reason, you may be wondering whether you can legally refuse a DUI checkpoint in California. 

What Is a DUI Checkpoint? 

DUI checkpoints are used by law enforcement officers to prevent and catch intoxicated drivers. At these checkpoints, officers will usually stop each vehicle passing through in order to check for evidence of alcohol consumption. The stop will typically begin when the officer asks for your driver’s license and registration and may consist of a brief conversation with the officer to determine if you are driving under the influence. Specifically, the officer will be looking to see if you smell like alcohol, exhibit physical impairment, have trouble providing your license and registration, have trouble answering questions, or have any alcohol or drugs in your vehicle. If you exhibit any of the above signs, you may be required to perform a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. Based on the results from these tests, you may then be arrested if there is probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence. 

DUI checkpoints must follow certain guidelines: 

  • Vehicles must be stopped in a neutral, pre-determined process. 
  • The checkpoint must be reasonably located. 
  • The checkpoint must be adequately identified with signage or marked police cars. 
  • The checkpoint must have safety precautions to give drivers enough time to stop. 
  • Supervising officers must be present to make sure rules are followed. 
  • Drivers should not be detained for longer than necessary. 
  • Officers should use good judgment in scheduling the checkpoint. 
  • Any roadblocks should be advertised in advance. 

Do You Have to Stop at a DUI Checkpoint? 

If you arrive at a DUI checkpoint, you must stop the vehicle and comply with law enforcement. If you refuse to stop or follow officer instructions, you may be arrested for obstruction of justice and possibly DUI. However, you may refuse certain things at a DUI checkpoint. First, you have the right to remain silent and may refuse to answer any questions from the police. Keep in mind, though, that refusing to answer questions may make you appear guilty or prolong your interaction with the officers. Additionally, you may decline a search of your vehicle. Officers do have the right to search your vehicle if they have probable cause, but they may only try to find probable cause by looking at what is clearly visible through the windows. Finally, you may refuse any tests that the officer requests, but only if you have not been arrested. It is important to note that even if you refuse testing, you may still be arrested. 

Can You Avoid a DUI Checkpoint? 

Surprisingly, it is perfectly legal to turn your vehicle around to avoid a DUI checkpoint. In fact, it is actually illegal for an officer to pull you over for driving away from a checkpoint. However, you should still exercise caution. When trying to avoid a DUI checkpoint, you must still follow any traffic laws in the area. For example, if you perform an illegal U-turn to avoid a checkpoint, an officer can pull you over and take your actions as evidence of impaired driving. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have been charged with DUI in California, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we know that DUI cases are often more complex than they seem. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients win their DUI cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid hefty fines and jail time. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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