DUI checkpoints, or sobriety checkpoints, are set up at certain locations and stationed by specific law enforcement officials to stop drivers and investigate for signs of impairment or intoxication. Law Enforcement officers continually defend the use of sobriety checkpoints as necessary for public safety and often cite the number of DUI arrests, on site, as defense for checkpoint use. As the public it is our job to question the use of any processes issued by government officials or federally funded programs that may or may not infringe on our liberty and freedoms.
First and foremost, the facts: Sobriety checkpoints are surrounded in legal ambiguity. The uncertainty of the legality for sobriety checkpoints leads many states to not conduct them at all. In twelve states total, these checkpoints are not allowed to be run at all. Many of the states that do not conduct sobriety checkpoints have ruled that they are unconstitutional. Each U.S. State is forced to interpret sobriety checkpoints individually, and thus individual laws and regulations are created that vary from state to state, and sometimes from county to county within the state.
Focusing on California, you need to know the Law when it comes to DUI checkpoints. Here are some legal statutes.
- An announcement of when the sobriety checkpoint will be implemented needs to be made by law enforcement to the general public at some time before it is created. (The announcement may be made on the law enforcement’s website, in the newspaper, or on the radio)
- Drivers are legally allowed to choose alternative routes when seeing a DUI checkpoint. They may not be forced to enter the checkpoint, and may not be pursued if they change directions legally.
- A trained officer or superintendent must be on site to oversee the checkpoint.
- The sobriety checkpoints must emphasize safety. They may not be placed in an area without proper safety procedures. Visibility must not be obscured.
- These sobriety checkpoints have certain procedures, and the details of those procedures must be known, like how they plan on stopping vehicles that enter the checkpoint.
Knowing your rights is very important when entering a sobriety checkpoint. Many California citizens are concerned with the legality of our checkpoints because of the increased number of arrests, citations, and vehicle impounds made at these sobriety checkpoints while having nothing to do with driver impairment or intoxication. Be smart, be safe, and be aware of your constitutional rights. You are the best person to look out for YOU.