Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson

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DUI Checkpoints Expected for the Summer Holidays

Posted on in DUI

As we approach Cinco de Mayo and Memorial Day we can expect a spike in DUI investigations and arrests. A major tool law enforcement uses is the sobriety checkpoint or “DUI roadblock.” As a general rule police may not stop a vehicle unless there is probable cause that the motorist committed a law violation. However, DUI checkpoints are an exception to this rule and can get the unwary driver rolled up into the criminal justice system.

My clients often ask me what their rights are when they get trapped into a sobriety checkpoint. You do have rights which you may and sometimes should exercise, but you should also use reason and good judgment to avoid further complicating an already uncomfortable situation.

First, do you have a right to avoid DUI checkpoints? Yes, in fact, you do and should have the ability to avoid a checkpointbefore you enter into it. Police are required to publicize the checkpoint in advance and must clearly advertise the roadblock with sufficient lights and signage warning approaching motorists that they may be stopped. However, once you enter the checkpoint, you have passed the point of no return and may not turn away.

Second, do you have a right not to cooperate or roll your window down? While there is no law in California that states you must roll your window down during a roadblock, not doing so could be perceived as delaying a peace officer in the performance of his duties, which is a criminal offense.

Third, do you have a right to refuse the field sobriety tests? Yes, you may refuse to cooperate in the performance of the standardized field sobriety test (FSTs) and may refuse a pre-arrest breathalyzer. However, California law requires that you submit to a post-arrest chemical test, either blood or breath and your refusal to do so is a criminal offense, whether or not you were intoxicated at the time. This is called the California Implied Consent Law.

If you do get arrested for DUI it is imperative to call a lawyer immediately. You only have ten days to request a hearing with the DMV to save your driver’s license and there may be a way to avoid criminal charges depending on the facts of the case.

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