How to handle a DUI checkpoint
You have a lot to lose with a DUI conviction. The penalties for DUI in California are extremely high, which is why you want to do your best to avoid a charge.
When you come upon a DUI checkpoint, your first instinct may be to stop, turn around and avoid it. You are allowed to do this, but only if you can turn around legally and without putting other drivers in danger on the road.
Police officers cannot stop you simply because you turned around to avoid the checkpoint. However, they can still stop you for other reasons, such as if you are showing signs of intoxication.
If there is no way to avoid the checkpoint, California law requires you to stop and submit to the checkpoint. You will likely be asked for your driver’s license and registration.
Provide documents but say nothing
Provide these to the officers, but do not offer any other information, even if they ask. They might ask you questions to try to determine if you have been drinking.
Most drivers get nervous at a DUI checkpoint, even if they haven’t been drinking. This can sometimes cause behavior that mimics intoxication, such as slurred speech, clumsy movements, struggling to locate your driver’s license and registration or nervous rambling.
Stay as calm as possible. Once the officers have reviewed your documents, ask if you are free to go. Without signs of intoxication, they must let you proceed through the checkpoint.
Your right to refuse tests
The officers will ask you to step out of your vehicle if they detect impairment. You have a right to refuse field sobriety tests, which are tests asking you to do things like walk a straight line or recite the alphabet backwards. You can refuse a breath or blood test, but be careful if you do, because if you fail, the refusal could lead to additional penalties.
Because of the anxiety that usually comes with an experience at a DUI checkpoint, it can be hard to determine if any of your rights were violated. If you were arrested, it is best to have your situation evaluated.