If you have been arrested at a DUI/sobriety checkpoint, you have a fairly good idea of what they are. With sobriety checkpoints, officers will often target locations and times of day where there have been an unusually high number of DUI arrests or drunk driving accidents.
During a DUI checkpoint, officers will briefly detain drivers and interview them, all in an effort to identify impaired drivers. If a driver is suspicious and seems under the influence, the interviewing officer will ask him or her to step outside of the vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests.
The whole purpose of DUI checkpoints, also referred to as "roadblocks" or "mobile checkpoints" is to weed out drunk drivers so the roads can be safer.
Are sobriety checkpoints legal in California?
While sobriety checkpoints depart from the theory of "probable cause," they are legal in the state of California. The Constitution does require police officers to have probable cause for ordinary traffic stops, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the dangers of drunk driving are so great, that they trump the "degree of intrusion" of roadblocks and are an exception to the search and seizure provisions in the U.S. Constitution.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued guidelines for sobriety checkpoints. The NHTSA made it clear that it strongly supports the use of sobriety checkpoints; the agency believes that they should be integrated into all alcohol and drug-impaired programs conducted by law enforcement.
California DUI checkpoints must meet the following criteria:
- There must be a neutral method for stopping motorists.
- Drivers should only be detained for a short period of time.
- There should be public notice about the roadblocks ahead of time.
- Operational decisions must be made by supervising officers.
- The time and duration of the checkpoint should reflect good judgment.
- The officers must take adequate safety precautions.
- It must be obvious that the checkpoint is official in nature.
If you were arrested for DUI, contact Middlebrook & Associates, LLP to speak with a Bakersfield DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. We are fully dedicated to DUI defense, and are members of the California DUI Lawyers Association, and the National College for DUI Defense. We are also selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers®, and maintain a 10.0 Superb Avvo Rating.