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Your DUI Checkpoint Questions Answered

Being pulled over by police is fairly common. But what should one do when encountering a DUI checkpoint? Many motorists have no idea what they should or should not do in this situation.

The following are some commonly asked questions (with corresponding answers) relating to DUI checkpoints in California.

What happens if I turn around at a DUI checkpoint?

One of the common questions that drivers have is whether they can be pulled over if they turn around when they spot a DUI checkpoint. The simple answer to this question is no. Police have no legal authority to pull a vehicle over simply because they made a U-turn upon spotting a DUI checkpoint.

According to the vehicle code, turning away upon spotting a DUI checkpoint does not constitute probable cause for pulling over a vehicle, as long as you do not break any laws while turning away. If for example you make an illegal U-turn, then the police would have probable cause to pull over the vehicle for that offense, but not for suspicion that they are driving under the influence.

Likewise, if the turn is made in a way that endangers the lives of others, then of course the police can pull you over for this offense. Ensuring that you are following all traffic laws is the sure way to not being pulled over for turning around before driving into a DUI checkpoint.

You may also be wondering what you should do when you do pull into a DUI checkpoint. One thing that drivers must be aware of is that their legal rights are not suspended at these checkpoints. The checks that police conduct must conform to the law. It is, therefore, important for drivers to be aware of the applicable laws during these checks.

During the DUI checkpoint investigation, if you know the police officer is doing something that is not lawful or violating your legal rights, then you do not have to comply with his or her request.

Do I have to roll down my window at a DUI checkpoint?

This question is often asked by drivers. The answer to the question is that drivers are supposed to comply with the police officer’s request to roll down the window. Simply put, police officers at these DUI checkpoints cannot carry out their investigation when the window is rolled up. For them to be able to determine whether one is driving under influence there must be some form of interaction between the police officer and the driver.

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It is only when the police officer engages the driver in a conversation that they can be able to assess whether they are driving under influence. If the driver has nothing to hide, they should simply comply with the directions of the police officers, provided that they conduct themselves within the confines of the law.

Some drivers may be hesitant to roll down the windows upon request by a police officer because there are no laws in California that require the driver to do so. However, drivers should be aware that failing to roll down the window may constitute obstruction of justice, and they can be arrested on that charge. There have been cases where drivers who were not under influence were taken to court and convicted for obstructing justice.

What am I required to do at a DUI checkpoint?

At a DUI checkpoint, there are several things that the driver should do. The driver should submit their driver’s license to the police officer if they are required to do so. In California, DUI checkpoints have been merged with license checks and drivers have no option but to produce the license if requested to do so.

Drivers should also agree to take a chemical test in the event they are arrested on suspicion of DUI. Such tests must however be after the driver has been arrested but not before. The driver can legally refuse to take part in a preliminary alcohol screening when such tests are required before the driver has been arrested.

Conclusion

Most drivers are not aware of what they should do when they encounter a DUI checkpoint. Drivers need to know their rights to ensure that they do not find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Drivers have a right to make a U-turn without being flagged down as long as they do not break any traffic laws when making the turn.

The legal rights of drivers are not suspended during these DUI checkpoints, and it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that their rights are respected. However, drivers are obliged to roll down the windows to allow the police officers to conduct their investigations.

Failing to roll down the windows is interpreted as obstructing justice, and drivers can be charged with this offense irrespective of whether they were driving under DUI or not.

If you’ve been stopped for a suspected DUI offense and were ultimately arrested, it’s important to hire a defense attorney as soon as possible. The team at Artz & Sturm Law Group is standing by and ready to help you navigate your case. Reach out to us today!

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