California treats driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol as a criminal act. To catch drivers operating a motor vehicle under the influence, police officers sometimes set up DUI checkpoints. Drivers must stop at these checkpoints and cooperate with law enforcement under most circumstances.
So, what are the penalties for avoiding a DUI checkpoint? In fact, California law allows drivers to turn around to avoid a DUI checkpoint if there is a place to do so legally. Drivers should only face penalties in specific cases.
Legally Avoiding a DUI Checkpoint in Los Angeles
Some drivers think they must proceed to a DUI checkpoint if they see one while driving. However, this is not quite the case. Legally, you can turn around if you see a DUI checkpoint, but only if you can do so without breaking any traffic laws.
For example, you can turn off the road before the DUI checkpoint if there is a place to turn. Alternatively, you can make a legal U-turn to avoid the traffic backup caused by the checkpoint.
Drivers cannot commit a traffic violation to avoid a DUI checkpoint. For example, drivers can’t make an illegal U-turn or run up over a curb to stay away from a DUI checkpoint. Drivers who violate traffic laws to avoid a DUI checkpoint can get stopped by the police. Once stopped, they could face citations and charges related to their illegal turn as well as DUI or other offenses.
Police officers can also pursue drivers who avoid a DUI checkpoint if:
- They have a defect in their vehicle
- They are driving in a way that indicates impairment
In both cases, drivers could end up facing criminal charges because of the reasons the police pursued them and stopped them. However, there are no specific charges used against drivers who avoid DUI checkpoints in our state.
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Expectations at a DUI Checkpoint in California
Drivers cannot perform illegal driving maneuvers to avoid a DUI checkpoint. This means that some drivers cannot get out of stopping at a DUI checkpoint. Law enforcement agencies often place these checkpoints in areas that make them difficult to avoid.
Drivers who enter a checkpoint must obey certain rules. Drivers must cooperate with police officers at the checkpoint. This means drivers should be ready to:
- Answer questions posed by police officers, as long as they do not incriminate themselves
- Politely decline to discuss anything that might incriminate them, such as where they were or how much they had to drink
- Present their license, insurance, and registration
Drivers can face charges for driving without a license if they do not have their license. Police officers can also issue citations if there is something wrong with a vehicle. For example, let’s say a driver reaches a DUI traffic stop with a broken taillight. This could lead to a citation.
Of course, these checkpoints generally look for drunk or drugged drivers. If the officers suspect an impaired driver, they may ask them to complete one or more field sobriety tests. Additionally, sometimes police officers order drivers to complete a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Drivers must complete these tests if they are:
- Under 21
- On DUI probation
- Legally arrested
Failure to go along with a legally ordered BAC test will have serious legal consequences. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can issue a suspension of one’s driver’s license after a BAC test refusal. In addition, they could still charge the driver with DUI. They could face the penalties associated with this charge if convicted.
Examples of DUI Charges in Los Angeles
Police officers sometimes issue DUI citations at a checkpoint in Los Angeles. They generally arrest the driver, take them to the local jail, and hold them until they can make an initial court appearance. This could take several hours or even longer. A tow truck will likely take their vehicle to a nearby tow lot if there is not a sober driver in the vehicle to drive it.
There are several different charges used to prosecute DUIs. The most common charge is Vehicle Code §23152. They use this charge to prosecute drivers for operating a vehicle under the influence of:
- Alcohol and drugs
Note that this is only an example of one DUI charge used in California. The courts use other charges for drivers under 21, for example. Drivers also face different charges if they caused a DUI accident that resulted in an injury. Those with extremely high levels of drugs or alcohol or repeat offenders could face additional consequences if convicted of the charges they face.
It is also important to understand that driving after using marijuana is illegal. In fact, this is the most common form of DUI involving drugs in California. While recreational use is now legal statewide, intoxicated driving is not. While there is a separate law for drugged driving, the penalties that come with a conviction are generally the same as for drunk driving.
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Penalties for DUI Convictions in California
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts your passengers and others on the road in danger. Intoxicated drivers are much more likely to cause a collision or other injuries. Therefore, those arrested and convicted of these charges often pay large fines or spend time behind bars. Most face an administrative license suspension, as well.
The court system in California treats DUI charges very seriously. A conviction could lead to:
- Jail time
- Restrictions on your driver’s license
- Time in an alcohol education program
Drivers face these penalties after a DUI conviction. You should also know that DUIs are priorable offenses in California. This means that they remain on a driver’s record. If you have previous drunk or drugged driving offenses, you must be very careful not to get arrested again for it. Drivers with multiple DUIs face increased penalties in our state. This could include large fines, long-term suspension of your driver’s license, and significant jail time.
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Learn About the Penalties for Avoiding a DUI Checkpoint
Some drivers won’t face any penalties for avoiding a DUI checkpoint. If you must avoid a roadblock set up by a law enforcement agency, you should do so carefully and legally. Do not violate any traffic laws while trying to turn off the main road or make a U-turn. The police could pursue you if you do.
If you do arrive at a roadblock, remember that drivers who enter a checkpoint need to follow certain legal rules. Be polite and cooperate with the police officers while protecting your rights.
If these officers accuse you of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could face arrest and charges. Connect with our California DUI attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to begin building a strong defense strategy. If your lawyer can show the officers failed to follow all applicable rules for a DUI checkpoint, the prosecutors may have to drop the charges against you.
Contact Us to Learn More About Your Legal Options
You can get legal help if police arrested you or prosecutors charged you with a DUI after a checkpoint stop. Find out how by contacting Simmrin Law Group’s DUI lawyers in Los Angeles. We’ll discuss your situation during a free consultation.
Learn more by calling our office. You can also fill out our online contact form to get started.