Police officers in California can set up checkpoints to find drivers who are driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. Many drivers would prefer to avoid the hassle of a checkpoint, regardless of whether they were drinking. So, are you required to stop at a DUI checkpoint in California?
In this article, our team reviews California’s legal regulations on DUI checkpoint usage. Find out when and if you need to stop at a checkpoint and review the steps for handling a DUI check with Simmrin Law Group. You can also call us if you face charges or if the police arrested you for DUI after a checkpoint stop.
Drivers Can Legally Avoid DUI Checkpoints in California
You do not legally have to drive up to a DUI checkpoint if you see it in time to take a detour around it in California. However, you cannot break any laws to avoid a DUI checkpoint. This means that you cannot avoid a checkpoint by, for example:
- Making an illegal U-turn
- Backing up dangerously into other drivers
- Driving up over a sidewalk
- Turning onto a one-way road
Additionally, speeding or driving aggressively to get away from a DUI checkpoint could be evidence that you are driving while impaired. This could provide law enforcement officers with the justification to pursue you and pull you over, as could violating other traffic laws.
Your best option if you cannot legally avoid a DUI checkpoint is to proceed through the checkpoint and follow the instructions below for how to best handle interactions with the law enforcement officers manning the roadblock.
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You Must Stop at DUI Checkpoints That You Cannot Avoid
In many situations, there is no legal way to avoid a DUI checkpoint in California. Police often position them in areas that make it difficult to turn off the main road once you spot them. This forces most drivers to continue.
If you cannot legally turn your vehicle around, you must proceed and complete the checkpoint. Note that police do not stop all drivers at every DUI checkpoint. Some only stop a few drivers every few minutes. Others stop each driver. If they stop your vehicle, you must follow the directions issued by law enforcement officers.
Suspicion of DUI During Checkpoint Can Lead to Arrest
Police officers will ask questions at DUI checkpoints. You should not lie about your answers. However, you do not have to answer questions that will incriminate you. You can politely refuse to answer, though you could still face arrest based on suspicion of a DUI if they have reason to believe you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police officers at a DUI checkpoint will be looking for signs of impairment, including:
- Slurred speech
- Evidence of empty or full bottles in your vehicle
- The smell of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs
Law enforcement officers manning a DUI checkpoint generally look for drunk drivers, although DUI drug offenses often look similar. You could face DUI drug charges if police officers believe you are driving under the influence of marijuana or another drug.
Checkpoints Can Lead to Other Citations in Some Cases
Police officers can also cite you for other offenses at a DUI checkpoint. For example, if you go through a checkpoint with a broken headlight, the police officer will inform you of the infraction and could issue a ticket. In most of these cases, you can pay the fine and enter a guilty plea or fight the ticket in traffic court.
On the other hand, DUI is a criminal traffic violation with serious consequences. If you face any criminal charges after a DUI checkpoint or other stop, you should reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away. You do not have to try to protect your rights and clear your name on your own.
Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint in California
As we mentioned, California law obligates you to follow the directions of a law enforcement officer at a DUI checkpoint. You should remain polite and agreeable during the DUI checkpoint stop. However, you do have rights, especially when it comes to DUI testing.
Police officers can request that you complete blood alcohol content (BAC) testing or field sobriety tests (FSTs). You can legally refuse these tests in some situations. However, you MUST complete these tests if:
- You are legally under arrest
- You are on DUI probation
- You are under 21
Police officers in California also frequently use preliminary alcohol screening (PAS), which is a roadside breath test that offers a quick reading before conducting an official chemical test. Only those who fall under the previously mentioned categories must participate in PAS. However, you could still face arrest on suspicion of DUI if you refuse to participate.
Once you are under arrest, you must offer a sample for testing. This is generally either a breath or blood test, although urine tests sometimes occur. Refusal to comply with a legally requested test can result in the suspension of your driver’s license without the option to pursue a hardship license. In addition, you will face increased penalties if convicted of a DUI in this case.
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Seek Help After a DUI Arrest at a Checkpoint
A DUI lawyer in Los Angeles can help you if you face charges of a DUI after a checkpoint stop. You can improve your odds of successfully handling a DUI charge if you get assistance as soon as possible after your arrest. You only have 10 days to request a hearing to challenge your license suspension, for example. We will handle this for you if we represent you before the deadline.
The professionals at Simmrin Law Group can represent you as police officers and prosecutors question you and build their cases. In some cases, we can present evidence to clear your name before they file charges. We can work to block evidence against you to weaken the prosecution’s case or find another effective strategy that suits the circumstances of your case. Our team understands what it takes to handle DUI charges in California.
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We Can Seek the Best Outcome for Your Case
In some cases, we may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. We know how to approach these cases, the strategies that work, and how to handle negotiations with prosecutors and judges. We’re also ready to defend you in court here in California as we work to help you put DUI charges firmly in your past. Everyone makes mistakes. We are here to help you move forward with your life.
A DUI Lawyer Can Help If Police Stop You at a DUI Checkpoint
You may avoid a DUI checkpoint in California if you can legally drive in a different direction. In all other situations, you must stop at a DUI checkpoint and comply with the requests of law enforcement officers. You can get help if law enforcement arrested you or a loved one at a checkpoint by contacting Simmrin Law Group. Just call us or fill out our online contact form.
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