DUI checkpoints have become increasingly common in the past decade. Their use has nearly tripled since 2001. They lead to hundreds of DUI arrests a month and provide the state with much needed revenue. Many drivers feel trapped when approaching a checkpoint believing that they have no choice but to go through the drunk driving checkpoint. This is not true.
Normally when a driver is stopped for DUI (Vehicle Code section 23152 A/B), officers are required to have probable cause to believe that a law has been broken before pulling over your vehicle. Many DUI cases are dismissed due to a lack of probable cause. Checkpoint DUI arrests are completely different. No probable cause is needed to approach your vehicle to determine if you are intoxicated. Police use this opportunity to check your driver’s license, to see if you have any outstanding arrest warrants, and to check for signs and symptoms of intoxication.
The signs an officer generally looks for to determine if you are driving under the influence are the following:
1. Red and watery eyes
2. Slow and slurred speech
3. Odor of alcohol on the breath
4. Lack of coordination
5. Fumbling with your driver’s license or registration
If the officer believes that you may be “drunk driving,” they will have you pull to the side of the checkpoint to undergo field sobriety tests. Often they will administer a breath test during the field sobriety tests known as the PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening test) to determine your blood alcohol level.
There are many laws which restrict how checkpoints can be conducted. It is required that checkpoints be publicized, meaning advance notice has to be given to drivers. Checkpoints must be published in newspapers, online, [...]