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What Are California Sobriety Checkpoints?


California sobriety checkpoints are scheduled events which involve police offers setting up a DUI checkpoint at a specific, reported location. When at that location, officers are permitted to pull over cars in a predetermined pattern and check to see if the driver shows any signs of intoxication. In regular traffic stops, California officers are required to present reasonable cause before they can arrest an individual for a DUI. An officer must have a reason to stop the vehicle, such as a traffic violation, a defect on the vehicle or a driving pattern that indicated possible intoxication.

At California sobriety checkpoints, the police don't need a particular reason to stop the vehicle. They can pull over any vehicles that are a part of their predetermined pattern. There are specific laws in the California constitution which govern sobriety checkpoints.

These laws are:

  • The checkpoint must be reasonable located
  • Roadblocks should be publically advertised
  • Drivers should be detained for a minimal amount of time
  • The checkpoint's time and duration should reflect "good judgment"
  • Adequate safety precautions must be taken
  • The criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral
  • Supervising officers must make all operational decisions
  • The checkpoint must exhibit indications of its official nature

If you don't want to participate in a DUI checkpoint, you can pull out of the line and avoid having to pass through. Officers are not allowed to pursue your vehicle simply because you avoid the DUI stop. They can pull you over if you have a defect on your vehicle, commit a traffic violation or display signs of obvious intoxication when leaving the stop.

DUI checkpoints must be publically advertised in advance so that they do not take California drivers by surprise. Often, police officers will post warning signs miles up the road from the DUI checkpoint. At these stops, the police are looking for alcohol on the breath, slurred speech, glassy or bloodshot eyes or other signs of intoxication. If you want more information, call a San Jose DUI attorney to discuss field sobriety checkpoints or arrests at these checkpoints today!