Knowing Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint

When you drive up to a DUI checkpoint, you are required to stop your vehicle, but are you fully aware of what your rights are when interacting with law enforcement? Despite the fact that DUI checkpoints are an exception to the rule that officers are not allowed to pull someone over without a reason, you still have rights and knowing them is the only way to protect yourself.

The reason why DUI checkpoints are legal is because they are considered an “administrative inspection,” much like the way it is legal for airport security to look through your bags at an airport to ensure you are not carrying weapons or any other items that might pose a risk to public safety. That said, these checkpoints are only legal if law enforcement officers follow the rules and do not violate anyone’s rights.

Below are some of the rules that law enforcement officers must abide by:

  • DUI checkpoints must have supervising officers to ensure the rules are being followed correctly.
  • Drivers should be stopped in a neutral and unbiased manner.
  • The checkpoint’s location must be reasonable and cause minimal inconvenience.
  • There should be safety precautions that allow motorists enough time to stop.
  • Law enforcement officers must use good judgment when scheduling the checkpoint. For example, having a checkpoint during rush hour would not be an exercise of good judgment.
  • An adequate indication of an upcoming checkpoint should be made, including marked police cars and signage.
  • Drivers should not be detained for a prolonged amount of time.
  • Roadblocks should be announced in advance, but this is not necessarily required.

What Goes on at a DUI Checkpoint?

If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you must follow the officer’s instructions. When they ask you to roll down your window and provide your license and registration, you are required to do so. Failure to comply can lead to an arrest for obstruction of justice.

This is what you can expect at the DUI checkpoint:

  • If, when asked for your driver’s license, you do not have one or yours is not valid, you will be charged with a crime. However, it is illegal to impound a vehicle if driving without a license is the only charge.
  • After law enforcement officers check your license, they will begin to ask a series of questions to check for signs of impairment, including slurred speech, the scent of alcohol, or empty bottles or drugs in your vehicle. If they believe they have any reason to believe you are inebriated, they could potentially arrest you for a DUI.
  • If there are any violations involved, you could be ticketed for those as well and charged for any other crimes the police find evidence of.

This process generally takes a couple of minutes and, if none of the above apply, you will be permitted to leave.

Do I Have to Submit to an Alcohol Test?

If you have not been arrested for a DUI, you are not required to submit to any field sobriety tests or a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). Chances are that, regardless if you submit to these tests or not, the officer was already planning to arrest you at this stage. If you are arrested for a DUI, you are required to submit to the test, which would either be a blood or breath test. Refusing to submit to this test after an arrest can result in additional charges.

Can I Turn Around?

People are often surprised to learn that there is actually no law against turning around to avoid a DUI checkpoint and, if a police officer attempts to pull you over because you drove away, this is considered illegal. That said, if you disobey traffic laws to turn around, you could still get pulled over.

Just keep in mind that if you do end up getting arrested at a DUI checkpoint, this does not mean you need to give up and assume you will be convicted. Hiring a skilled and experienced DUI attorney can make all the difference in whether you are able to beat these charges, so make sure to seek legal representation as soon as possible.

DUI Attorneys in Riverside County

A DUI conviction can have a serious impact on a person’s future, resulting in both personal and legal consequences. If you are currently facing a DUI charge, you need to reach out to a knowledgeable criminal attorney who will fight on your behalf and protect your rights. At Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich, our DUI attorneys in Riverside County are dedicated to defending clients against these charges, so they can move forward with their lives. Backed by over 50 years of combined legal experience, you can rest assured that your case will be in good hands with us.

Get started on your case today and contact our law office at (951) 687-6003 to request a free initial consultation.


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