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29 Jan

What Happens at a DUI Checkpoint?

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Sobriety Checkpoints or DUI Checkpoints in Orange County CA are the brief detention developed by police for the purpose of investigating and evaluating passing motorists for drunk driving. These roadblocks on public roadways do not only give the police the chance to check tags and licenses or peer into the vehicle for a moment, they also give them an opportunity to whiff the driver’s breath. It is determined by a policy-making official with logical reasons. The roadblocks may use drug-sniffing dogs on certain occasions. It is essential to understand that a driver’s legal rights are limited when he or she is arrested as a result of a sniffing dog – no need to waive your rights.

Once you are stopped at the DUI Checkpoints in Orange County CA, the officers will ask you to roll down your window to speak with you. They will ask you for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of car insurance. They will also ask where you are coming from or where are you heading now.

If the police officers suspect that you have been drinking, they may ask you whether you have been drinking tonight. The officers will also begin to look for signs of intoxication. These signs include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Smell of alcohol
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Flushed face
  • Lack of coordination

If you display any of these symptoms, the police officers may give you a quick breathalyzer test. If the police do not have a breathalyzer with them, they will ask you to move your vehicle to the side and step out of the vehicle to give a roadside DUI test.

During the DUI tests at the DUI Checkpoints in Orange County CA, you can run afoul of several laws:

  • If you don’t have a valid driver’s license, or if it was suspended, you will be charged with a crime. However, since 2012, it is illegal to impound your car if driving without a license is your only charge. The valid, registered owner can come get it as long as they arrive before the checkpoint is over.
  • After checking your license, officers will ask you several questions. They’re looking for signs that you’re impaired, such as slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, or a glimpse of bottles or drugs in the car. If they have any reason to believe you’re inebriated they may arrest you for DUI.
  • You can be issued tickets for other violations, such as a broken headlight. You can also be charged with other crimes if the police see the evidence.

If none of these apply, you will be allowed to go. Normally, this only takes a minute or two—often just seconds.

Do you have to submit to Alcohol Tests at a DUI checkpoint?

Under California’s implied consent rule, as a driver, you must submit to a chemical test after you have been arrested on suspicion of a DUI. The key word is “after.” Therefore, when you happen upon a checkpoint and the officer requests that you to take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test you can legally refuse.

Sometimes police will use tests to evaluate whether you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the DUI Checkpoints in Orange County CA. If you have not yet been arrested, you do not have to submit to these tests (but refusing may seem suspicious). If you have been arrested for DUI, you are required to submit to the test. Refusing to do so is a crime in its own right.

There are three kinds of tests:

  • Field sobriety tests. Police are trained to carry out “field sobriety tests” (FSTs) to evaluate whether you’re sober. These include things like walking a line or reciting the alphabet backwards. This is done before the arrest, and it’s up to you whether you choose to comply. If you refuse, however, you may still be arrested for DUI.
  • A “preliminary alcohol screening” (PAS) is a small portable breath test, such as the Breathalyzer. Police will ask you to blow into this device before arresting you, and you can refuse if you want. Again, this may not stop them from arresting you, and the prosecution may use your refusal against you.
  • Blood / breathe test. After you’re arrested for DUI, police will ask you to take either a blood or breathe test. This can be done at a hospital or the police station. At this point, you are legally required to comply. If you don’t, you will face additional charges.

Which Constitutional Rights Are at Issue?

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, paper, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”. Further, the Fourth Amendment states that this right “shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation. . . . ”

In the eleven states which have determined that drunk driving checkpoints intrude upon a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, it has been found that the checkpoints are a warrantless and suspiciousness search without probable cause.

Can You Turn Away at a DUI Checkpoint?

While the act of simply turning away at a DUI checkpoint will not in and of itself gives a police officer the reasonable suspicion required to make a DUI stop, the officer may be able to stop you if he observes any driving behavior that would be sufficient for reasonable suspicion.

Getting stopped at the DUI Checkpoints in Orange County CA is Not the End.

Want to find out if your DWI/DUI arrest was legal? Call Sohalia Sahami, a qualified Orange County DWI/DUI Defense Attorney for over 30 years experience to review your case for your DUI, —and get a FREE consultation today. The Law Offices of Sohalia Sahami helps in protecting the rights of its clients charged with DUI cases.

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