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What Is a DUI Checkpoint and Is It Legal?

The Legality Of Checkpoints

There’s no doubt that drinking and driving can cause accidents, and it’s illegal both on a state and federal level to consume alcohol and drive while intoxicated. However, the U.S. Constitution offers protection for citizens who are suspected of driving under the influence. Here’s what you need to know about DUI checkpoints, how they may affect you, and what to do if you’ve been arrested for drinking and driving at a DUI roadblock.

DUI Checkpoints 101

A DUI checkpoint allows officers to assess multiple drivers for signs of alcohol intoxication. Police forces will set up stops, or roadblocks, during times of the day and year that roads are likely to be busiest, and select vehicles at random to check. Officers may ask for a breathalyzer test.

How the Fourth Amendment Affects DUI Checkpoints

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement officials. In traditional DUI cases, police may not stop a vehicle unless they have probable cause that suggests the driver of the vehicle is breaking a law. In the case of DUI checkpoints, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that temporary roadblocks for the purpose of identifying and removing drunk drivers from the roads are not a violation of Constitutional rights.

Not all states agree, however, so it’s crucial that you review the specific laws in your state to determine if a DUI checkpoint is allowed.

DUI Checkpoints Under California State Law

DUI checkpoints are considered legal under California law, 743 P.2d 1299 (Cal. 1987). Under this law, California police may only set up temporary or mobile checkpoints and the locations for the roadblocks must be chosen at random. The criteria used to determine which motorists to stop must be neutral, drivers should only be detained for a very short amount of time, and the location must be publicly advertised before it’s put up.

Call an Attorney If You’ve Been Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint

If you’ve been stopped at a DUI checkpoint and were arrested, you have the same rights as any other citizen arrested for a crime. You have the right to remain silent and the right to contact an attorney, both of which you should do right away. Do not answer questions and ask to contact your lawyer as soon as you learn that you are being taken into police custody.

Contact Visco & Wohl Criminal Defense today for a consultation at 951-384-7375.