If you’re out driving California streets and roads on Halloween night, about the only thing that might be scarier than running into a ghost or goblin is encountering the dreaded California DUI Checkpoint and the prospect of spending a night in jail if you’ve been celebrating the holiday with your favorite pumpkin brew.
Are these things even legal?
The one question Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorneys are asked about these checkpoints is “Are they even legal?” Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have ruled that DUI checkpoints do not violate the constitution – so long as they are administered properly – more on that below. Courts have likened DUI checkpoints to security screenings that occur at airports and government buildings. The California Legislature has made it an infraction to refuse to submit to a California DUI checkpoint (Cal. Vehicle Code, § 2814.2, subd. (a).)
How Do I Know if That DUI Checkpoint Was “Administered Properly”?
The California Supreme Court has ruled that California DUI checkpoints are generally constitutional but that certain factors are to be considered in evaluating the DUI checkpoint where you were stopped. Your California criminal defense attorney should be looking at these factors and investigating your case to see if your DUI checkpoint complied with the law as your case may be dismissed if the officers did not comply with the applicable law.
These factors are:
1. Supervisory officers, as opposed to filed officers, are to make operational decisions, such as where and when to set up the checkpoints.
2. The guidelines for stopping motorists must be neutral (e.g, every third car) as opposed to being based on the make and model of the car, or, of course, the race, ethnicity, or gender of the driver.
3. The location of the checkpoint must be reasonable, i.e., in areas where there are frequent DUI arrests or DUI related accidents.
4. Law enforcement officers must take adequate safety precautions to protect the public.
5. Law enforcement officers must exercise “good judgment” in setting the date and time of the checkpoint.
6. The checkpoint must appear to be “official,’ e.g., posting warning signs, using marked police cars, and the presence of uniformed officers.
7. Drivers can be detained for a minimal period of time to briefly check them for signs of impairment, and, if a driver shows no such signs, the driver must be free to proceed without further delay.
8. While not required, DUI checkpoints should be advertised in advance.
Can’t I Just Turn Around or Take Another Route?
There is no law that requires a driver to pass through a DUI checkpoint (although Vehicle Code section 2814.2(a) may make this somewhat arguable). That is, you’re free to turn around or take a different route – so long as you’re not doing so unsafely, or committing a California Vehicle Code violation (e.g., driving with a burned-out headlight, or expired registration sticker).
How Can I Find Out About DUI Checkpoints In Advance?
As we noted, the courts do not require law enforcement to advertise DUI checkpoints in advance; although many departments do. You can check your local police or sheriff’s department’s website, as well as local news websites, local TV news programs, and local newspapers for this information.
There are also smartphone apps that you can download from iTunes and Google Play that claim to provide information on DUI checkpoints; although their accuracy is not always guaranteed. You can also use Google Maps or Waze that will frequently route traffic around traffic delays caused by things such as accidents and California DUI checkpoints.
Wallin & Klarich also conveniently publishes California DUI checkpoints every Friday on our Facebook page (Like us on Facebook here)
Okay, I’m Stuck Going Through a DUI Checkpoint. Any Last Minute Tips?
Sure, here are a few of our best tips:
1. Be polite and courteous with the officers. If you act overly anxious or threatening, you’re more likely to be referred for secondary screening, which is what you want to avoid. In most cases, you’ll show the officers your license and registration, answer a few questions and be on your way.
2. Don’t answer questions about how much you’ve been drinking or where you are going or coming from. You are free to politely decline these questions. Remember, anything you say can and will likely be misrepresented against you!
- Don’t consent to searches! If the officers ask to search you or your car, politely tell them no, you do not consent to any searches. If they order you to submit to a search, your best bet is to comply with their commands and let us fight them for you – in a court of law.
- Unless you are on probation for DUI, you do not have to perform “field sobriety tests” such as walking the straight line and touching your nose. You can politely decline these tests. If, however, you are arrested for a California DUI, and you refuse a chemical test, you can have your California Driver’s License suspended.
Contact the DUI Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you care about has been convicted of a DUI, you will need an experienced attorney to help you with your case. For over 37 years, Wallin & Klarich, A Law Corporation, has successfully helped clients like you fight to keep their previous convictions from affecting a current case. Let us help you, too. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation phone consultation so that we can begin helping you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.