If you are like so many other people in Los Angeles, then you are probably planning on heading to a friend’s or family member’s house for a holiday party sometime soon. During the festivities, wine, eggnog, and other alcoholic beverages will probably be on the menu to help people feel warm and enjoy themselves. The Los Angeles Police Department and other law enforcement agencies know that the increase in parties also means an increase in the number of drunk drivers on the road.
To more easily catch intoxicated drivers and arrest them, police departments will undoubtedly set up driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoints at major intersections and along highways. At a DUI checkpoint, every driver must slow or come to a full stop, depending on the instructions of police officers present. People suspected of driving while intoxicated will be removed from the road and arrested.
Will you be ready to protect your rights if you get stopped at a holiday DUI checkpoint?
Your Rights If You Get Stopped at a DUI Checkpoint
When you are approaching a DUI checkpoint, be prepared to slow down and come to a stop. You should not try to turn around or take a sudden detour to avoid the checkpoint, as this may look suspicious. There is usually a police officer near the approach to follow and pullover drivers who try to dodge a checkpoint once they see it.
You will be asked in the checkpoint to produce at least your driver’s license. Place it in a handy spot where you can reach it in clear view and roll your window down about halfway. Your preparation ahead of time will show the police officers you are aware of the situation and willing to cooperate. Courtesies can go a long way in police encounters.
With any luck, the officer who sees your license will return it and allow you to continue on your way without further hindrance. However, you may be asked to pull over along the side of the road, away from other drivers in the checkpoint. You must comply with the officer’s order, just as you would if they had pulled you over with flashing lights and a siren.
At this point, knowing your rights becomes even more important. As during any police encounter, you do not have to answer any questions that could incriminate you, like “Have you had too much to drink tonight?” The police also cannot search your vehicle without your consent or a court-approved warrant.
You also do not need to take any optional field sobriety tests (FST), which generally include standing on one leg or reciting the alphabet backwards. Before you deny a field sobriety test, be sure to ask the officer if it is mandatory or not. Optional tests should be able to be refused without immediate legal consequences.
What to Do If You Are Arrested
Being pulled over at a holiday DUI checkpoint is not the same as being arrested for a DUI. In case you are eventually arrested by the police at the DUI checkpoint, remain calm and cooperative, but also silent. Tell the officers you are using your right to remain silent until you get a chance to speak with your attorney.
Never resist arrest, even if you think the DUI checkpoint constituted an unjust search and seizure, as many have argued successfully in the past. When you resist arrest, you endanger yourself and also commit a crime in that act alone. Allow yourself to be taken peacefully to the police station and use your phone call to reach a DUI defense lawyer. Remember: being arrested is not the same as being charged with a crime, so there is still plenty of opportunities for a defense attorney to intervene and help you.
When you need help after an arrest or criminal investigation, call (800) 462-7160 to connect with the highly-acclaimed Los Angeles criminal defense and DUI attorneys of Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP. Our team members have been highlighted in the news numerous times for groundbreaking cases, and we have an impressive track record of success. Place such powerful representation in your corner for your DUI case by getting in contact with us now.