After being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you may feel like you have nowhere to turn. However, there is always hope after a DUI arrest. You have to remember that officers can and do make mistakes at DUI checkpoints, and a judge may dismiss your case if you provide substantial evidence. However, you can’t do this alone. You’ll need the assistance of an experienced San Diego DUI lawyer who can thoroughly investigate your case to determine if the police made any mistakes.
Are DUI Checkpoints in California Legal?
DUI checkpoints are legal in California. Police departments can set up roadblocks where officers stop motorists for a short period of time without probable cause to determine if they are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Factors to Determine Legality of a DUI Checkpoint
Just because DUI checkpoints are legal does not mean law enforcement can set up a checkpoint at any time. Several factors go into determining the legality of a checkpoint. If any of the factors listed are not reasonably met, your attorney may be able to fight the DUI charge.
Properly Stopping Cars
When officers are planning a DUI checkpoint, they must also predetermine how they will stop drivers. Stopping cars is not up to the discretion of the officers running the checkpoint. An example of stopping cars can be checking five drivers, then allowing the next two to proceed.
Reasonable Location, Time, and Duration
Police departments cannot set up a checkpoint just anywhere. It has to be in an area where there have been multiple accidents or arrests relating to DUIs. This way, the checkpoint will be more effective in stopping drunk or drugged drivers.
There is no set time limit for a DUI checkpoint. So, a checkpoint can last throughout an entire weekend, as long as it does not create a substantial burden to local residents. Supervisors who determine when and how long checkpoints last must make reasonable decisions.
DUI checkpoints must be marked appropriately at all times, and signs must be placed before the stop. Officers can also have lights on several vehicles leading up to the stop. Signing the location alerts drivers to the possibility that they may be asked questions and minimizes any fears that could lead to a motorist making an unsafe move to avoid the checkpoint.
Remember that you can legally turn around at a checkpoint as long as it’s safe to do so. Officers cannot pull you over for turning around before a DUI stop unless the move was illegal or dangerous.
Drivers Must Be Detained for a Short Time
Officers must keep you at the checkpoint for the shortest amount of time possible. This means that they are trained to recognize the signs of intoxication, such as:
- Slurred speech
- Glassy eyes
- The smell of alcohol or other drugs
In general, officers should ask you a few questions, lasting no more than two minutes. If they don’t notice anything, they should let you leave.
The most important aspect of a DUI checkpoint is that police departments must advertise it. Notices usually go out a week in advance, which you can find in the newspaper or on the county’s website.
Challenging DUI Checkpoints
A credible challenge to a DUI checkpoint is that an officer did not stop you randomly. Other defenses include questioning how long drivers were stopped for and if motorists could safely turn around to avoid the checkpoint. Your attorney can also determine if the checkpoint was in a reasonable location or the police department announced it in advance.
Overall, if any of the above factors occurred, your DUI defense attorney can challenge your charge in court.
Seek Legal Representation from a Skilled California Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’re facing a DUI charge from a checkpoint in San Diego but feel that it was an invalid stop, reach out to Attorney Dod of Dod Law. He will conduct a thorough investigation into your charge and the checkpoint’s legality. When you partner with him, you can be confident he will do everything possible to obtain a favorable outcome.
Attorney Dod has been practicing criminal defense law for more than 17 years and has worked on more than 6,500 criminal cases in and out of the courtroom, including more than 75 jury trials and 400 preliminary hearings. The case results he achieves for his clients speak for themselves. Call (619) 814-5110 or complete an online contact form to schedule your free consultation.