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What if I was arrested for DUI at a random checkpoint?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2024 | DUI |

In California, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to set up DUI checkpoints. The laws governing this practice can be somewhat confusing, and many people are unsure of their rights when they are stopped in this kind of situation.

For example, drivers could be under the impression that they have the right to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test as it might incriminate them. That is not exactly the case. Under California’s implied consent laws, drivers must take a chemical breath test when asked to do so.

When this happens at a designated area where police have set up a roadblock, it adds more nuance to the mix. Those facing charges after a DUI checkpoint arrest should assess all options when forging a defense.

Checkpoints crop up frequently to seek out potential DUIs

Throughout California, law enforcement sets up checkpoints to try and catch drivers who are under the influence. There was one recently in Petaluma. Prior to setting up the checkpoint, officers do not tell the public where it is going to be. They do give warning as to the time it will take place. In general, areas where accidents and DUIs tend to occur are used as a guideline for where law enforcement will set up.

According to state law, drivers who are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint are required to follow the officers’ commands. Just like a traffic stop in which a law enforcement officer claims to have witnessed the driver operating the vehicle erratically or behaving in ways that suggested they were under the influence, the officer will speak to the driver, look for signs of intoxication and potentially pursue an investigation.

Still, there are rules that must be followed, even by law enforcement. If they are stopping every fourth vehicle at random, they are expected to adhere to the template. When assessing the driver, the officer might look for signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes and open containers.

If advanced testing like a breathalyzer is used, the machine must be properly calibrated and the officer certified to operate it. Many cases can be called into question and the charges dropped if it is found that the machine was faulty or had not been maintained or the officer did not have their certification up to date.

Another mistake drivers might make involves field sobriety tests. Unlike a breathalyzer or blood test, the driver is not legally obligated to do the walk-and-turn test, the finger to nose test and others that are used for officers to gauge whether a driver is under the influence.

A DUI checkpoint arrest can be fought in court

Even after the arrest was made at a DUI checkpoint and the person is facing charges, there are options to try and forge a workable solution. Given the potentially harsh penalties a person can face for even a first DUI offense, it is imperative to know what can be done to address the charges and avoid a conviction.

Questioning the testing procedure, showing why the driver had a viable reason to have appeared intoxicated or pointing out flaws in the process might be effective. Exploring all avenues is key and this can help with reaching a positive result.