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Watch Out for the DUI Checkpoints

By Criminal Defense Attorney on September 18, 2019

The San Diego police plan, publicize, and execute DUI checkpoints regularly. Locations for these checkpoints are chosen based on previous accidents and DUI arrests. In a recent article in the Times of San Diego, a representative of the police department stated that crashes involving impaired drivers can be reduced by up to 20% when well-publicized DUI operations are conducted on a routine basis.

The San Diego Police Department makes it no secret when they are planning a DUI checkpoint. In fact, the date and hour are broadly disseminated for a reason – to discourage driving under the influence. Drivers in San Diego would do well to pay careful attention to these announcements and be aware of the location of DUI checkpoints.

If you have been arrested at a San Diego DUI checkpoint, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At jD LAW, P.C., DUIs are something of a specialty for our firm. Call us at (760) 630-2000 for the dedicated legal representation you need.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

DUI sobriety checkpoints have been determined to be valid under both the U.S. and California Constitutions. The California Supreme Court has ruled that they are “administrative inspections” (like airport screenings) and an exception to the Fourth Amendment, under which a police officer must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigation.

However, drivers arrested at a DUI checkpoint may still have constitutional grounds on which to challenge the arrest. While police officers do not need probable cause to stop a driver at a checkpoint, the checkpoint must meet a list of requirements under both the state and federal constitutions. If the checkpoint falls short on any one of these requirements, a driver arrested at that checkpoint may be able to defend against DUI charges on those grounds.

DUI Checkpoints: The Rules

DUI checkpoints are legal in California, but if it can be established that the checkpoint was not operated correctly, the evidence against you could be suppressed. The rules include:

  • All motorists must be pulled over on an impartial basis – no profiling.
  • Drivers must be detained for the shortest possible time.
  • The checkpoint location must be advertised.
  • The location must be reasonable, in an area in which many drunk drivers have been arrested, or where drunk driving accidents have occurred.

Signs of Impairment

Police officers look for specific indicators of alcohol or drug intoxication. These “signs” allow them to investigate you further.

  • The smell of alcohol on your breath.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • The odor of marijuana in the vehicle.
  • An admission that you recently consumed alcohol.

Am I Required to Stop at a DUI Checkpoint?

A DUI checkpoint is legal, and if the police pull you over, you are required to stop. You are not legally required to answer questions about whether you have been drinking, or other personal questions. The police do not have the right to search your vehicle unless there is probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or you agree to allow the search. You are also not legally required to undergo the standard field sobriety tests and have the right to decline. You are required to submit your driver’s license, registration, and insurance card, or undergo a breath test if asked to do so.

Where Can I Find the Notice of the Locations of DUI Checkpoints?

In San Diego, you can find the locations of the DUI checkpoints on the City of San Diego official website, in the Police Department section, and from various local news sources.

Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint? Get Legal Help.

If you have been arrested at a checkpoint, you need a San Diego DUI defense lawyer with years of experience, who is well-versed in every possible defense. Attorney James N. Dicks, the founder of jD LAW, P.C., is a former Los Angeles Police Department investigator and a certified criminal law specialist. Mr. Dicks is also a drug recognition expert (DRE) who keeps current with the latest developments in the field. Call us today at (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation if you are facing DUI charges in California.

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