What Are My Rights at a DUI Checkpoint?

When police departments start cracking down on drinking and driving in local communities, they often set up DUI checkpoints to identify drivers they suspect are under the influence. A DUI checkpoint is essentially a police barricade that is set up on a road frequently used by drivers. Every driver who approaches a DUI checkpoint is stopped and checked for signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes or the odor of alcohol. Below, we explain your rights at a DUI Checkpoint.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

Although officers normally need a reason to pull a driver over, DUI checkpoints are the exception to this rule and are not considered a violation of your rights. DUI checkpoints are considered an “administrative inspection,” much like when security at an airport searches your bags before you can board a plane. DUI checkpoints are legal as long police adhere to the following:

  • Supervising officers must be present and running the checkpoint to make sure the rules are carefully followed.
  • Police must be neutral and unbiased in the method they use to stop motorists.
  • The DUI checkpoint must be “reasonably” located, such as a place where frequent DUI violations occur.
  • There must be safety precautions in place to give drivers enough time to stop.
  • Police must use “good judgment” when scheduling the checkpoint.
  • There must be adequate signage that there is an official checkpoint up ahead.
  • Drivers should be detained for a minimal amount of time.

Do I Have to Follow Instructions?

If you are stopped by police at a checkpoint, you should follow the officers’ instructions when they ask you to roll down the window to present your license and registration. If you fail to follow an officers’ instructions, you can be arrested for obstruction of justice and possible DUI.

Police will sometimes use sobriety tests to evaluate whether drivers are operating their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You do not have to submit to these tests if you haven’t been placed under arrest. However, if you are under arrest for DUI, then you are required to submit to alcohol testing.

Can I Turn Around If I Spot a DUI Checkpoint?

It is not illegal to turn your vehicle around if you want to avoid the hassle of a DUI checkpoint. Although police can’t pull you over just for driving away from a DUI checkpoint, they can stop you if you break any traffic laws or make an illegal U-turn. Remember, swerving or driving aggressively can be grounds for being pulled over near a DUI checkpoint.

Speak to Our DUI Attorneys Today

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our skilled and experienced attorneys have been using our extensive resources to help clients across Southern California fight DUI charges. We provide the clients we serve with customized defense strategies tailored to the unique facts of their cases, and we always devote time and attention to chemical testing to determine the role it played in the charges against our clients.

If you or someone you know has been accused of DUI, then please call (800) 462-7160 today to schedule your free case consultation.