How to Navigate a DUI Checkpoint

You’re driving and traffic suddenly slows. You look around the car in front of you and see a few signs and cones lined up in the street. You think it’s construction, but as you approach you realize it’s something else—a DUI checkpoint. Even if you haven’t been drinking, a checkpoint can still be stressful, and it’s important to be prepared. Here are a few things to know about DUI checkpoints in California.

Can You Legally Avoid a DUI Checkpoint?

Yes, it is completely legal to avoid a DUI checkpoint, as long as you obey all traffic laws. If you see a checkpoint and make a right on the street before it, the police have no reason to stop you. However, if you make an illegal U-turn to escape a checkpoint, you may give an officer reasonable suspicion to pull you over.

Have Your Paperwork Ready

If you are stopped at a checkpoint, have your license and paperwork ready to speed up the process. In California, you are legally required to show your driver’s license, registration and proof of auto insurance to an officer.

Avoid Questions and Show Respect

You don’t lawfully have to engage in a conversation with an officer, but if you try to avoid too many questions, it may increase the chances of suspicion and being detained. If you are asked about drinking, you have the Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer; just do it in a polite way when informing the officer.

Do Not Consent

Do not allow an officer to search your car, even if they have “probably cause.” As a rule of thumb, you should always verbally refuse consent, even if they do search your car, because it can be argued in court that the search was unlawful.

Field Sobriety & Chemical Tests

If an officer suspects that you have been drinking, they may ask you to get out of the car and perform a field sobriety test; you can respectfully decline to submit to the test. On the other hand, if an officer asks you to take a chemical test, such as a breath or blood test, you are required to take it. Under California’s implied consent law, if you refuse a chemical test, you will be sent to jail and lose your license for a year.

Don’t let a DUI checkpoint get the better of you. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact our Fresno DUI defense attorney at The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch.

Give us a call at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online for a free consultation.


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