As a driver, if you encounter a DUI checkpoint, you may feel stressed and anxious. That's why it is recommendable to learn a few tips that would help you remain calm and go through the checkpoint with ease. Maintaining your calm is the best course, along with knowing checkpoints and DUI violations. The more drivers understand these procedures, the better equipped they are in dealing with them. Read this article and learn what you should do at a DUI checkpoint.
Ensure that the DUI Checkpoint is Compliant with the Constitutional Requirements
DUI checkpoints have remained valid under the United States and California constitutions. This means that they must meet certain legal aspects to be valid and constitutional. The legal specifications of a California sobriety checkpoint are as follows:
- It should be reasonably located.
- Neutral criteria must be used while stopping motorists.
- The supervising officer should make all operational decisions.
- The checkpoint duration and time must reflect good judgment.
- Drivers must be detained in the least time possible.
- Upcoming DUI checkpoints must be publicly advertised.
- The checkpoint must have sufficient indicia of its official nature.
- The checkpoint must observe sufficient safety precautions.
If the checkpoint as to which you were stopped and arrested for DUI does not comply with any of the above-stated factors, you can be able to defend your DUI charges if you are arrested.
Know What You Should Expect Once You Are Stopped
In most cases, sections of the road where the checkpoints are established merge into a single or dual lane before coming to a stop. Once you have been flagged down by one of the officers, he or she will ask you to roll down your window and request for your driver's license and car registration. You will also engage in a brief conversation with the officer to determine whether you are DUI.
How You Should Behave at a DUI Checkpoint
Most drivers are stopped at a DUI checkpoint even if there are no impairment behaviors observed from them. In some instances, they are stopped to obtain a clear and visible conclusion on whether you are impaired or DUI or recheck an observation misjudged. In this situation, you should maintain good interaction with the DUI officer since they might use any suspicious behavior against you in court.
Maintain Your Calm and Be Peaceful
Do not panic once you have been pulled over at a DUI checkpoint. Even if you are feeling afraid, act politely, and speak clearly with the officer. Once your license and registration have been asked, it is wise to provide these items with ease and without hesitation. If the police officer requests you to step out of the car for any reason, you should heed this request. Calmly and confidently exist the car without leaning on your vehicle since it might be constructed as a sign of impairment.
You can Dodge a DUI Checkpoint without Breaking the Law
One question that DUI attorneys are usually asked is whether it is unlawful to avoid a checkpoint. Well, you can dodge one as long as you comply with traffic laws. For instance, if you are driving, notice a checkpoint, and decide to avoid it by making a legal U-turn at the next corner, this does not count as a criminal act in any way.
However, if you break your tail light or drive suspiciously or recklessly while avoiding the checkpoint, the officer will find this suspicious and flag you down. In most cases, drivers trying to dodge DUI checkpoints by making illegal turns, failing to use turn signals, going through a stop sign, or hitting the gas once they approach the checkpoint. This behavior provides a legal ground to stop you.
Therefore, if you want to avoid a DUI checkpoint, ensure that you do not break any law. You should also avoid tinting your car window and keeping your car lights on to reduce the possibility of appearing suspicious.
Sometimes you Can Fail to Dodge DUI Checkpoints
Although there is a way that you can dodge a DUI checkpoint, police officers try to prevent these instances by disguising these checkpoints as construction zones. Drivers cannot distinguish whether these locations are checkpoints or construction zones, especially with orange cones.
By the time these drivers realize that they are driving through a DUI checkpoint, they cannot avoid it and must stop their cars. Once this happens, you are legally inclined to stop once a traffic officer flags you down. Failure to adhere to this would make you suspicious of DUI.
Show Your Driver’s License and Registration
Drivers must provide their license and registration once a traffic officer requests him or them to do so. Remember, driving is not your constitutional right but a privilege, hence the need to provide your identifications upon an officer's request.
Therefore, be ready to provide your name, driver's license, and car registration after being stopped at a DUI checkpoint. There is no legal obligation to converse with the officer in detail. However, if you avoid questions and evasive, this increases the likelihood of further detaining and questioning.
If you are not carrying your driver's license, you will likely be charged with California Vehicle Code 12951 (failure to display a valid driver's license), which is usually a California infraction that requires you to pay a fine. If you can later prove that he or she had a valid license while still at the checkpoint, there are chances that these charges might be dismissed.
Don't Answer Questions Meant to Determine Whether or Not You Were Drinking
Drivers can refuse to answer any questions directed at knowing whether you are drunk or not. This does not violate your Fifth Amendment rights whatsoever. Respectfully decline to answer these questions by informing or requesting the officer you do not want to respond to the questions. However, be polite and avoid being argumentative.
You Can Avoid a Field Sobriety Test
Once the police ask you to step out of your vehicle to perform an (FST) field sobriety test, it means that they have already determined that you are DUI or you’ve been drinking. However, you can decline this request by informing them that your lawyer has recommended that you should avoid performing the test and respectfully decline it.
Take a Chemical Test as Required by California Laws
In some cases, the police might request you to take a chemical test. This can either be a breath, a blood test and sometimes a urine test if they suspect that you are DUID (Driving Under the influence of Drugs). You have to submit to these requests since California's implied consent law expects drivers to take a blood or chemical test. Failure to take it might see you losing your license for a year. Therefore, you will have to comply with this requirement.
Ensure that Your Documentation Are Ready
Since you are expected to produce your documentation like driver's license registration, and insurance, you should have them ready while approaching a DUI checkpoint. This way, the officer will not make the case that you were 'fumbling' your documentation.
Avoid Volunteering Any Information
Regardless of whether you have drunk a few bottles of beer during the day, remember to provide the DUI officer with the necessary information that they will ask about. This includes whether you have been drinking and where you are heading to, or you have come from. Avoid going out of your way and give information that could be used against you. Instead, respectfully decline these questions by telling the officer that you want to speak to your attorney before speaking.
Maintain Your patience
The purpose of a DUI checkpoint is to keep the roads safer for you and drivers. Therefore, you should be patient and understanding if you come across this location. As long as you did not drink too much beer, you should pass past the checkpoint and leave in a few minutes. In the meantime, be polite and considerate to the officers you will come into contact with.
Seek the Help of a DUI Attorney Immediately
Pay attention to everything that goes on in a DUI checkpoint once you are stopped. Take note of the questions that they ask you, whether the checkpoint has relevant indicia, and whether the police officers have observed a DUI checkpoint's regulations.
In case you are stopped and feel that the law enforcement officer or the checkpoint does not meet the required regulations, you should immediately reach out to a California DUI defense lawyer. The defense attorney will fight to reduce or dismiss your charges.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
Once you face arrest at a DUI checkpoint, know that you still have rights. At The Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we will handle your DUI case with the intensity and commitment that benefit you in the best possible way. Our many years of experience will help us employ our knowledge and expertise to adopt the best defenses for you when facing DUI charges in San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles, CA. For more information, contact us anytime at 818-582-2350 and schedule an appointment with us.