What is a DUI Checkpoint?
If you’ve been driving long enough and have driven in a busy area at night, you have probably been through a DUI checkpoint at some point in your life. DUI checkpoints are employed by police throughout the state of California to help identify, arrest, and charge drunk drivers. They are typically conducted at night, when big events are being held in the area, or on holiday weekends, and on surface streets. However, they can be held on any date, time, and location – even on freeways.
During a DUI checkpoint, police officers will check a driver’s license and whether or not they are displaying symptoms of intoxication or seem under the influence. If the police officer suspects intoxication or use of drugs, they will request the driver to pull over and step out of the vehicle for field sobriety tests.
In the United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) case of Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S., 444 (190), the Court held that DUI checkpoints were not violations of Fourth Amendment Rights. Although the Fourth Amendment prohibits against the use of unreasonable searches and seizures, the safety benefits of holding DUI checkpoints outweighs any possible unreasonable searches citizens may claim take place during these checkpoints. The Court further held that the governmental interests supported by DUI checkpoints—such as the reduction of injuries and fatalities caused by DUI crashes; identifying and removing intoxicated drivers from the roads; and possibly preventing further DUIs—were too important to prohibit the use of DUI checkpoints solely based on the possibility of invasive searches. However, this does not mean that DUI checkpoints can consist of searches without limit. During this case, Chief Justice Rehnquist acknowledged the need for guidelines when conducting sobriety tests.
Not only has SCOTUS weighed in on DUI checkpoint regulations, but the California Supreme Court has also heard cases on the matter. In the 1987 case of Ingersoll v. Palmer, the California Supreme Court held that DUI checkpoints were required to adhere to certain safeguards they put forward. This way, the checkpoints would be compliant with the State Constitution, and would have a lower chance of potentially violating any individuals’ rights.
DUI Checkpoint FAQs
Although many people have a general understanding of DUI checkpoints, we’ve gathered and answered some of the most common questions people have regarding them to help further this understanding.
- What’s the purpose DUI checkpoints?
- The theoretical purpose of DUI sobriety checkpoints is to detect and apprehend drunk drivers.
- However, this has proven to be secondary to other purposes – such as a dragnet to raise revenue from citations for traffic, license, registration and equipment violations. See “DUI Roadblocks for Fun and Profit”. Another primary purpose has been a deterrent one — that is, to simply deter people from driving. See “Police Department Explains Real Purpose of DUI Roadblocks: Shock and Awe”.
- Do DUI checkpoints stop every single car?
- Although DUI checkpoints do not need to stop every car which goes through, it cannot make “random” stops of cars, due to potential selection biases this could cause. However, “randomly” stopping every other car or every third car would not be considered “random” so long as there is consistency in the “random” patterns.
- Are DUI checkpoints even legal?
- Yes, as mentioned above, both the California and United States Supreme Courts have held that DUI checkpoints are legally allowed to be conducted.
- How can I spot a DUI checkpoint?
- There will be cones, barriers, police officers, and signs indicating that an official DUI checkpoint is being held. Additionally, DUI checkpoints will be announced in advance by local police stations (see section below).
- What should I expect when pulling up to a DUI checkpoint?
- DUI checkpoint stops are very routine. When you pull up to one, you may be asked to show your driver’s license and registration, and you can also expect a short check-in conversation with the police officer explaining the checkpoint process.
- Is there any way to avoid DUI checkpoints?
- While there is no way to avoid passing through a DUI Checkpoint if you pull up to one or are stopped at one, there may still be a legal loophole which would help you avoid going through a DUI Checkpoint. While it may not be completely ethical, you can use social media and apps which track Checkpoints to help avoid them on your driving route. However – proceed with caution if doing this, and note it is not necessarily advised.
Police Departments Must Tell the Public Before They Hold a DUI Sobriety Checkpoint
Within the California Supreme Court case of Ingersoll v. Palmer, the Court provided eight requirements that law enforcement officers must follow when utilizing a DUI checkpoint. One of these requirements was that checkpoints must be advertised in advance. In other words, the police department must advise the public when and where they intend to operate a DUI checkpoint. Moreover, the advance notice must be reasonable.
Most police departments publish the notice on their social media websites. An example of what that may look like can be found at this link, which shows a recent DUI checkpoint announcement by the Riverside Sherriff’s Office. They might also put the notice in local newspapers and announce it on local newscasts. It is important to note that failing to advertise a DUI checkpoint does not by itself make the checkpoint unlawful or unconstitutional.
Other Ways to Find DUI Checkpoints
Modern Technology such as social media apps allow people to submit current information warning other drivers of upcoming checkpoints on their driving routes. One example of this is the popular Twitter page, @CheckpointsDUI. This page shares DUI checkpoints submitted by other Twitter users, with an emphasis on Checkpoints in California, Ohio, and Florida.
Several resources are widely available to help locate DUI checkpoints near you, and we’ve also compiled a list of them at the bottom of this article.
What To Do If You Have Been Arrested at a DUI Checkpoint
If you have been charged with a DUI being stopped at a DUI checkpoint or need any other California DUI legal advice and want an expert to evaluate your case, the Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor can provide top notch California DUI help. Here at the Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor, our California DUI attorneys specialize in helping you deal with your criminal charges in a way that would be most beneficial to you. Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.
FIND SOBRIETY CHECKPOINT LOCATIONS NEAR YOU
The following resources contain more information on where the find DUI checkpoints near you:
- California DUI Checkpoints: Recent Alerts A listing of recent alerts and planned checkpoints in California.
- Current California DUI Checkpoint Locations California DUI Checkpoint Information given through alerts on Facebook.
- Orange California DUI Checkpoints Alerts for sobriety checkpoints throughout Orange County — Irvine, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Fullerton, etc.
- Checkpoint Alerts Real-time SMS text alerts for Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego.
- Local Los Angeles DUI Checkpoints Recent text message and email location alerts.
- Riverside Sobriety Checkpoints DUI Roadblock text and email alerts throughout Riverside County: Murrieta, Indio, Corona, Temecula, etc.
- San Bernardino DUI Checkpoints Alerts for cities in San Bernardino County: San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Chino, Redlands, etc.
- Orange County DUI Checkpoints Alerts for sobriety checkpoints throughout Orange County — Irvine, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Newport Beach, Fullerton, etc.
- Latest DUI Checkpoint Locations A Twitter profile providing tweets about DUI checkpoint locations with an emphasis on California, Ohio, and Florida.
- Latest Orange County DUI Checkpoints A Twitter profile focused on sobriety checkpoints for Orange County.
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