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What to do when You are Arrested for a Checkpoint DUI

Posted on Jul 10th, 2023 by Super User 1203 Views

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense that negatively impacts your life. Besides losing your driving privileges in California, you could face hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences. Some factors, like having a prior conviction for DUI, can subject you to enhanced penalties. The steps you take after your arrest at a DUI checkpoint impact the outcome of your case.

After your arrest, traffic officers will build the case based on weak evidence, leading to unjust convictions for many individuals. This article offers tips on what actions to take when you are arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, enabling you to safeguard your constitutional rights and interests.

What is a DUI Checkpoint?

Also known as a sobriety checkpoint or roadblock, a DUI checkpoint is a predetermined location on the highway where traffic police stop motorists to check for those driving while under the influence. DUI checkpoints are conducted within the framework of the law, and law enforcement officers have the legal authority to stop and question drivers.

Law enforcement sets up these checkpoints during peak times when drunk driving incidents are more likely to happen. For example, weekends and holidays. In California, these checkpoints deter drunk driving and foster public safety.

What To Do When Police Stop You at a DUI Checkpoint

Encountering a DUI checkpoint can be an intimidating experience. However, knowing how to navigate it can help ease the process. Below are essential guidelines to follow when approaching a DUI checkpoint:

Stay Calm And Be Ready To Present Your Documentation

You want to remain calm and composed when approaching a DUI checkpoint. It is advisable to place your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance within reach. Your preparation helps to expedite the process and shows the enforcement that you are cooperative.

When the police approach you, pay attention to them. You could be asked to switch off the car or present the requisite documents. You should comply and follow their instructions respectfully and promptly.

Being polite and interacting with the police respectfully goes a long way. Greet them with a friendly tone and respond courteously to their questions or requests. Avoid aggressive or argumentative behavior, as it can escalate the situation and potentially result in additional legal complications.

Do Not Volunteer Information

While you should respond to the police's questions respectfully, you have the right to remain silent. Even though you can engage an officer in a conversation, you are not obligated to answer questions beyond providing the necessary documents. There is danger in volunteering information, as you could be incriminating yourself.

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects your right against self-incrimination. So at the DUI stop, you can remain silent and avoid giving the police information they could use against you in court.

If you offer unsolicited information concerning your activities, for example, alcohol consumption, you give the police officers reason to suspect you of driving under the influence.

The police can sometimes misinterpret statements or take them out of context, leading to unintended consequences. However harmless your comments about your whereabouts may seem, the police can use them against you in court. So limit your talking by answering direct questions briefly and truthfully.

Do Not Run Through A Checkpoint Or Make An Illegal U-Turn To Avoid A Checkpoint

Encountering a DUI checkpoint can be inconvenient, but you should avoid attempting to evade it by running through it or making an illegal U-turn. Illegal traffic acts, such as U-turns, could have serious legal consequences. Traffic police can identify suspicious behavior, and attempting to evade a checkpoint raises suspicion and can result in further scrutiny.

Evasive maneuvers to avoid a DUI checkpoint put your safety and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians at risk. Such acts increase the likelihood of accidents. If caught evading a DUI stop, you could face additional charges alongside the DUI charge. Possible punishments could include serving time in jail, mandatory alcohol education programs, license revocation, and fines.

Do Not Volunteer To Let An Officer Search Your Car

When traffic police stop you at a DUI stop, they could request to search your vehicle. Before you consent to the request, you should know your rights and the possible repercussions. You can refuse a search unless there is probable cause or a valid warrant. Note that the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Allowing your vehicle to be searched could lead to the discovery of incriminating evidence, even if you believe you have nothing to hide. Objects or substances found during the search could be used against you in a DUI case or other criminal investigations.

Also, consenting to a search allows officers to thoroughly inspect your vehicle, potentially leading to a lengthy and invasive process. They may examine personal belongings and compartments and even dismantle parts of your vehicle in search of evidence.

Human error, misperception, or ulterior motives such as planting evidence can come into play during the search process. Refusing consent can help expedite the checkpoint process and minimize potential disruptions to your day.

It is Ok To Refuse The Field Sobriety Test

Field sobriety tests are designed to evaluate your coordination and balance. At a DUI stop, the police may ask you to perform field sobriety tests to assess your level of impairment. You have the right to refuse to perform the test for the following reasons:

  • No Legal Requirement

Even if the police officers could encourage you to perform field sobriety tests, the law does not require you to do so. Field sobriety tests are voluntary, and you can decline them without immediate legal consequences. However, refusing a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer or blood test, could have legal implications due to implied consent laws.

  • Subjectivity and Reliability

Traffic police could use different field sobriety tests at DUI stops, including the stand test, walk and turn test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Various factors, such as nervousness, physical condition, or environmental conditions, can influence the results of these tests. Also, the police may interpret the test results differently, leading to potential inaccuracies. Refusing the field sobriety test avoids potential subjective judgments that may work against you.

  • Potential Self-Incrimination

Any impairment evidence the police gather during field sobriety tests could be used against you in a DUI case. After consuming alcohol and being uncertain whether you could pass the test, do not perform the tests. Without such evidence, the police cannot use it to build a case against you.

Examples of Field Sobriety Tests

While it is acceptable to refuse these tests, it is helpful to understand the common types of field sobriety tests that officers may administer:

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test - A test that focuses on involuntary eye movements, known as nystagmus, which can be accentuated under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer could ask you to follow a stimulus, such as a pen or a flashlight, with your eyes while they move it horizontally. They will then observe your eye movements for jerking or distinct nystagmus at certain angles. The presence and severity of nystagmus may be used to determine potential impairment.
  2. The Walk and Turn Test - During a walk and turn test, the police could ask you to take a series of steps along a straight line, usually nine steps forward and nine steps back. The officer will provide specific instructions, such as walking heel-to-toe, keeping your arms at your sides, and counting your steps aloud. The officer observes your ability to maintain balance, follow instructions, and perform the task without stumbling or using your arms for balance. Deviations from the instructed behavior may be seen as indicators of impairment.
  3. One Leg Stand Test - In the one-leg stand test, a traffic officer could instruct you to stand on one leg while raising the other approximately six inches off the ground. You will be asked to maintain your balance while counting aloud for a specific duration, usually around 30 seconds. The officer observes your ability to balance, sway, hop, or put your foot down. Difficulties in performing this test are potential signs of impairment.

Should you choose to perform field sobriety tests, remember that the results are subjective assessments made by the officer, and their interpretation can be challenged in court.

You May Want To Submit To A Breathalyzer

The police at DUI checkpoints use breathalyzers to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Even though your DUI attorney could advise that you refuse to perform field sobriety tests, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer in California is illegal.

In California, implied consent laws state that by operating a motor vehicle, you have already given consent to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC if suspected of driving under the influence. The chemical test is typically conducted through a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test.

If you believe you are not under the influence or your BAC is below the legal limit, submitting a breathalyzer test can provide objective evidence to support your innocence. If the results show a BAC below the legal limit, it may expedite your release and potentially avoid further legal complications.

While breathalyzer tests are commonly used to estimate BAC levels, they are not infallible. Factors such as calibration, maintenance, and administration can impact the accuracy of the results. In some cases, breathalyzer readings may produce false positives or be successfully challenged in court.

What Happens If You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Refusing a breathalyzer test and subsequently undergoing a blood test does not absolve you of potential consequences. In California, when you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, it is considered a refusal of a chemical test under the state's implied consent law.

Police officers seek a search warrant to compel you to undergo a blood test. This involves drawing a blood sample at a certified medical facility to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The refusal can result in administrative penalties imposed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), such as a driver's license suspension. Additionally, the refusal can be used against you in criminal court as evidence of your consciousness of guilt.

Even though blood tests are more reliable than breathalyzer tests in determining BAC levels, you could challenge their accuracy in court. Factors such as proper handling and storage of the blood sample, analysis procedures, and potential lab errors can impact the results. A skilled DUI attorney can help evaluate the validity of the blood test and challenge its accuracy if necessary.

Signs Of Intoxication An Officer Of The Law Might Check

Police officers are trained to look for signs of intoxication that may indicate impaired driving. Examples of intoxication signs include:

  • Open alcohol bottles and cans. Open containers within your reach suggest you could have been drinking while driving.
  • Bloodshot eyes. Alcohol and particular drugs can cause blood vessels in the eyes to dilate, resulting in a reddened or glassy appearance.
  • Odor of alcohol.
  • Slurred speech. You could have difficulty articulating your words clearly if you are impaired. Slurred or slower, incoherent speech patterns are strong indicators of alcohol or drug impairment.
  • Delayed responses. Alcohol and drugs can significantly impact a person's cognitive abilities, leading to delayed or slowed responses to questions or commands. Officers may look for signs of confusion, difficulty concentrating, or sluggishness in their interactions with you.
  • Erratic driving behaviors, including swerving, weaving, abrupt lane changes, or excessively slow driving.
  • Nervousness or agitation.

The above signs are not definitive proof of intoxication, and officers must gather further evidence to support their suspicions. However, they serve as initial indicators that can lead to further investigation, such as field sobriety tests and chemical testing.

Posting Bail After a DUI Arrest

Bail allows you to secure your release from custody after a DUI arrest while awaiting trial.

DUI Arraignment Hearing

After your arrest, you are arraigned in court and will be formally charged with the DUI offense. At the arraignment, the judge will inform you of the charges against you and ask for your plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).

It is at this point that bail may be set. The judge will consider various factors to determine the appropriate bail amount. These factors may include:

  • The severity of your offense - The judge will consider the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest, such as the level of impairment, any accidents or injuries involved, and whether there were aggravating factors. Aggravating factors include excessive speed or reckless driving.
  • Your criminal record - If you have prior DUI convictions or a history of other criminal offenses, the judge may view you as a higher risk and potentially impose a higher bail amount.
  • You are a flight risk - The court will assess whether you will likely flee and fail to appear for future proceedings. Factors such as ties to the community, employment stability, and family obligations may be considered in determining flight risk.
  • Public safety concerns - If your DUI arrest involved significant harm to others or if you pose a threat to public safety, the judge may set a higher bail amount or even deny bail altogether.

Adhering to Your Bail Conditions

When the court sets your bail, you must comply with the conditions to remain out of custody. Failure to adhere to bail conditions can result in your bail revocation and arrest. Common conditions include:

  • Attending all court hearings.
  • Abstaining from alcohol and drugs.
  • Complying with travel restrictions.
  • Avoiding further criminal activity.

What Happens When You Cannot Afford Bail

If the bail amount set by the court is beyond your financial means, there are options available to secure your release:

  • Find a Reliable Bail Bonds Service

Bail bond companies provide a way for individuals to post bail by paying a percentage of the total bail amount. The bail bondsman acts as a surety and takes responsibility for ensuring that you appear in court. However, remember that you pay a non-refundable fee, around 10% of the total bail amount, to the bail bondsman.

This option allows you to secure your release from custody while only paying a fraction of the bail amount. Researching and choosing a reputable bail bonds service is important to ensure a smooth and reliable process.

  • Explore Other Forms Of Bail

Alternative forms of bail may be available depending on your case's jurisdiction and circumstances. These could include property bonds, where you use real estate or other valuable assets as collateral, or a release on your own recognizance (OR), where the court allows you to be released without posting bail but with the agreement that you will return for all court proceedings.

Find a Riverside Bail Bonds Service Near Me

If you are stopped at a DUI stop and face arrest in Temecula, you should first consider securing your release. One way to leave jail is by posting bail while awaiting your trial. You can find a bail bonds company if the judge sets a bail amount beyond your financial ability. All you do is pay 10% of the bail amount. In return, the bail bonds service will post the bail amount to the court for your release.

We are dedicated to ensuring a smooth bail bond process around the clock at Justice Bail Bonds. We also offer flexible and affordable payment plans. We have extensive experience working alongside court and jail staff. You can be certain that we can expedite your release. If you or your loved one faces an arrest for a DUI at a checkpoint and requires bail bond services, contact us at 714-541-1155.

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For faster service please call 951-445-4155 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you or a loved one has been arrested and need to be bailed out quickly and confidentially or if you simply have questions regarding bail, an arrest, or inmate information please do not hesitate to call or fill out our contact us form. We are available 24/7 for all of your bail needs. 

For faster service please call 951-445-4155 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you or a loved one has been arrested and need to be bailed out quickly and confidentially or if you simply have questions regarding bail, an arrest, or inmate information please do not hesitate to call or fill out our contact us form. We are available 24/7 for all of your bail needs.