Los Angeles DUI Checkpoints
While still controversial in many states, DUI checkpoints in California are highly utilized by law enforcement agencies in an effort to crack down on drunk driving. Normally, police officers must have probable cause to stop a vehicle, usually for violating traffic or equipment provision of the California Vehicle Code. This probable cause requirement is relaxed in the context of DUI sobriety checkpoints. However, there are still certain criteria the police must follow when conducting a Los Angeles DUI checkpoint. If the driver is arrested then the charge will most likely be a violation of California Vehicle Code 23152(a) or CVC 23152(b).
Driving Under the Influence checkpoints are usually operated during evening hours, from 8:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M., at times and locations that police suspect will net numerous Los Angeles DUI arrests. When someone drives through a DUI checkpoint, the officer present is only supposed to ask the driver a couple of questions to quickly ascertain if that individual shows signs of intoxication. The officer will also usually shine a light into the stopped vehicle to look for open containers of alcohol. If an officer believes that the person stopped is not driving under the influence, he or she allows the driver to go on their way. If however, they suspect that the driver is impaired, that driver will be diverted to an area to perform California field sobriety tests, and a standard DUI investigation will commence.
In ruling on the constitutionality of the DUI sobriety checkpoints, the California Supreme Court has laid out very specific criteria which must be followed for a checkpoint to be valid. First, a supervising officer (as opposed to a field officer) must be in charge. They must determine where and when these checkpoints will be held and ensure that the checkpoint is placed in area that has experienced an abnormally high rate of DUI-related arrests and/or traffic accidents. Additionally, the supervising officer must set criteria for how the checkpoint will be conducted, i.e. should the officers check every car, every third car, etc.
Second, the checkpoint must be reasonably located. That means the checkpoint MUST be in an area that has a proven high volume of DUI related arrests and/or accidents. This also means that the supervising officer must ensure that he or she considers the safety of everyone involved, drivers and officers, when selecting a location.
Finally, DUI checkpoints must be “visible.” This means that the DUI roadblock must be publicly advertised before they are conducted. Police agencies generally rely on law enforcement websites, local newspapers, and news media stations to report the checkpoint approximately one week prior to its execution. This also means that the checkpoint must be clearly visible to approaching vehicles. Police officers satisfy this element by employing warning signs, flashing lights, bright lighting, marked police vehicles and uniformed officers while conducting the checkpoint.
You may be surprised to learn that it is completely legal to drive away from a DUI checkpoint if you do not wish to stop. If you choose to exercise this right, you cannot lawfully be stopped unless a police officer sees you commit a violation of the law or display obvious signs of intoxication. However, keep in mind that whether you violate a traffic law in avoiding the checkpoint (such as making an illegal U-turn, or crossing a double yellow line) is usually completely subjective to the officers on the scene. Also, these DUI checkpoints typically have officers stationed at the perimeters of the checkpoint, whose function is to keep a close eye on any vehicle attempting to avoid the roadblock.
Because of the many complicated legal issues with the Los Angeles DUI Checkpoints that originate from sobriety checkpoints, you need an aggressive lawyer on your side. Attorney Michael Kraut was educated at Harvard Law School and prior to opening the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers he was a deputy district attorney for over 14 years. He understands the legal complexities of cases like this. Mr. Kraut will aggressively defend your case explore every angle and argument to ensure you have the best defense possible. Contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney today to setup free consultation 24/7 at (323) 464-6453.