What’s about to unfold at that California DUI checkpoint up ahead?

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

California police stops linked to alleged behind-the-wheel driving come with materially varied “facts” in any given case.

Despite that sheer allowance concerning realities surrounding any detention, though, at least a couple things stand out as commonplace and even routine in the DUI realm.

The first is this: California law enforcers cast an extremely wide net while prowling on streets and highways for motorists they might be able to arrest and ultimately convict on a drunk driving charge.

The bottom line with their surveillance is that all drivers are potential targets. Detained motorists include teachers, accountants, students, clergy members, factory employees, shopkeepers, construction workers and members of virtually any other demographic. When it comes to alleged drunk driving, every driver in California is a candidate for close police scrutiny.

California DUI penalties: multiple and carrying a sting

And then there is this: If you are arrested in California for driving under the influence, rest assured that you are likely going to face some starkly adverse exactions.

Those are prominently noted in one authoritative California legal source addressing DUI charges and resulting penalties. That overview underscores the downsides that often ensue even after jail time and punitive costs and fees issue. Additional consequences “can hinder your employment opportunities, college admissions, professional licenses, insurance and even travel to some countries.” Moreover, authorities will likely suspend – perhaps even revoke – your driving privileges.

One notable – and sometimes challenged – DUI enforcement tool

California law enforcers employ many tools and strategies when on the lookout for impaired drivers. Saturation patrols are common. So too are recurring enforcement campaigns that occur each year.

Today’s post spotlights sobriety checkpoints (also denoted as DUI roadblocks, roadside safety checks and in other ways). California motorists approaching checkpoints are sometimes a bit confused and even bewildered by a mandatory-stop-and-check process that suddenly confronts them on the shoulder of a street or highway.

One in-depth article spotlighting DUI roadblock specifics and legalities duly notes the confusion and issues that sometimes arise concerning checkpoint set-up and administration. It stresses that roadblocks “remain controversial and are prohibited in many states.”

Not in California. In fact, law enforcers have long conducted checkpoints in locales spanning the state. California lawmakers deem roadblocks lawful under both the federal and state constitutions and liberally administer them thousands of times each year.

As noted above, not all roadblocks automatically survive legal scrutiny. To pass constitutional muster, a checkpoint must be shown to be reasonable in both its creation and the manner it is carried out. Among other things, it must ensure this:

  • Justification why it is necessary (and at a specific place and time)
  • Advance notification provided to the public
  • Motorist screening pursuant to a neutral formula (e.g., every 10th driver)
  • A reasonably confined and not overly intrusive search

A motorist who confronts legal challenges at a DUI checkpoint might logically have questions or concerns regarding his or her rights. A proven criminal defense legal team can provide candid guidance and, when necessary, diligent representation aimed at securing an optimal case outcome.