Your Legal Rights During a California DUI Checkpoint

Sobriety-CheckpointGetting stopped by a DUI Checkpoint in the State of California can be a sobering experience. You may find yourself wondering if those two glasses of wine you had with dinner or the three beers you had at the game are going to come back and haunt you.

As you continue driving down the road, you see the flashing lights and the barricades. Yes, you are coming up on a DUI Checkpoint. Are you aware of your legal rights?

While California law states a police officer must have probable cause to search your person or your vehicle, they do not have to have probable cause to stop you for a DUI Checkpoint. It is usually a safe bet that if a national holiday falls on a certain day or a major event, local authorities will set up DUI Checkpoints to help keep the public safe from possible drunk drivers.

Each DUI Checkpoint must follow eight specific guidelines.

1. The Supervising Officers involved with the DUI Checkpoint must make all operational decisions.

2. Cars must be randomly stopped. There should be no set criteria involved when choosing cars to stop for the DUI Checkpoint.

3. For safety reasons, for both motorists and the police officers involved, the DUI Checkpoint must be reasonably located.

4. Adequate safety precautions must be taken.

5. To keep traffic moving in a timely fashion, a DUI Checkpoint’s time and duration should reflect “good judgment.”

6. All police officers involved in the DUI Checkpoint should be able to display proper credentials.

7. Motorists should be stopped for a minimal amount of time. Again, this is to keep traffic moving smoothly, to insure the safety of the public.

8. All DUI Checkpoints should be publicly advertised in advance. Again, this is to insure the safety of both motorists and the police officers involved. Taking this step will help motorists be sure they have time to stop their vehicle slowly and carefully to meet with the Checkpoint.

Once police officers have you safely stopped for the DUI Checkpoint, legally you do not have to answer questions about where you have been, where you are going, or if you have been drinking. However, it may be in your best interest to answer their questions truthfully.

Just because police officers have you pulled over for a DUI Checkpoint, it does not give them the right to search you or your vehicle, unless they have probable cause or at least your consent. You cannot be force to take a field sobriety test. However, if police officers do find probable cause, they may require you to take some kind of chemical test or breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol content.