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What to Do at a California DUI Checkpoint

By Criminal Defense Attorney on November 30, 2016

There are few things more unsettling for a driver than to be stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. Regardless of whether or not you have been drinking, the process of being briefly detained and questioned can be frightening, especially if the police should suspect you of driving under the influence (DUI). Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your rights and minimize your chances of finding yourself in the back of a squad car.

If you should be stopped at a DUI roadblock, be sure to do the following:

  1. Politely present your information: When asked for your license and registration, calmly and politely do so without resistance. Keep your hands on the wheel where the police can see them and ask before reaching into your glove compartment or other concealed location. Most importantly, keep your composure. Remember, losing your cool is perhaps the easiest way for you to appear suspicious.
  2. Do not argue probable cause: Many drivers attempt to get out of being stopped at a roadblock by arguing that the police do not have probable cause to stop them in the first place. What many people do not know, however, is this argument has already been debunked by the United States Supreme Court, having ruled that the dangers of drunk driving outweigh the level of intrusion into a driver’s privacy at a DUI checkpoint. In other words, the police can stop you without having any evidence of wrongdoing. It is best to simply save yourself the aggravation and avoid provoking the ire of a police officer by challenging their authority.
  3. Stay silent: While the police can stop you without reason, you do not have to tell them anything outside of your identifying information. In fact, anything you say will only be used to your detriment and give the police reason to further their investigation. You are well within your rights to keep to yourself and decline to answer questions such as where you were going, where you were coming from, or if you have had anything to drink.
  4. Decline field sobriety tests: If the police suspect you of driving under the influence, they may ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform a series of tests aimed to gauge your sobriety and test your reflexes. Despite their widespread use, these tests are designed for failure and have been known to be at best between 65 to 77% accurate. In other words, on average one out of every four people arrested for DUI for failing these tests are not intoxicated. Fortunately, you may – and should – refuse to submit to these tests without penalty.
  5. Deny any searches: If the police ask to search your vehicle, you may politely decline without penalty. Without your consent, the police may only search your vehicle with a court-issued warrant or if they have sufficient reason to suspect you are guilty of a crime, known as probable cause.

Arrested? Get JD Law on Your Side

Unfortunately, good people can still find themselves in difficult situations. If you have been arrested for DUI after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, our powerful Vista DUI lawyer at JD Law can provide the aggressive representation to minimize your chances of serving serious consequences. Backed by more than 30 years of proven legal experience and a designation as a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, Attorney Jim Dicks has what it takes to ensure your rights are guarded.

Call (760) 705-1999 or contact us online today to review your defense options.

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