Were you arrested at a California sobriety checkpoint?
Law enforcement sets up DUI checkpoints at night, weekends, and particularly on holiday weekends in hopes of catching drunk drivers before they cause serious accidents. Many people are unsure about their rights at a DUI checkpoint. If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint, contact Gold & Witham. We have represented hundreds of drivers in similar situations, and know what it takes to get you the best possible case result.
Are DUI checkpoints constitutional?
The constitutionality of DUI checkpoints (also known as "sobriety checkpoints") has been contested for years. Specifically, DUI checkpoints call the individual's Fourth Amendment rights to freedom from unlawful searches and seizures into question. With a DUI checkpoint, there does not have to be reasonable suspicion for an officer to question you. They are still not allowed to search you unless you consent or they find probable cause that you committed a crime.
Your Rights at a Sobriety Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints are regulated, and the officers that run them must comply with the regulations. For example, sobriety checkpoints must be announced ahead of time. Law enforcement must also have a method for stopping cars that pass through the checkpoint, rather than arbitrarily stopping cars (i.e. "every Xth vehicle").
You also have the right to refuse consent to a search. Law enforcement officers can purposefully twist the way they phrase things to make it sound like you have to consent to a search. For example, "You don't have anything to hide, do you? Mind if I take a look in your vehicle?" In reality, you are not obligated to consent to a search of your person or vehicle at a DUI checkpoint.
Law enforcement also cannot keep you for an extended period at a checkpoint unless they say they are formally detaining you. One thing you can ask is, "Officer, am I being detained?" If they refuse to answer this question or they say you are not being detained, then they legally have to let you go.
Contacting Our South Bay DUI Lawyers
If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint, let the attorneys at Gold & Witham represent you and stand for your rights. We passionately advocate for the rights of those arrested and charged with drunk driving. Want to avoid tough penalties like jail and license suspension? Call us.