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Understanding the California DUI Process: Part II – Arrest at a Checkpoint

dui process part 2

The California DUI process – Arrest at Checkpoint. Many DUI arrests occur at traffic stops. If an officer stops you for suspicion of DUI, he will ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This test measures Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), which is the ratio of alcohol per milliliter of blood in your body. If the test produces a reading of .08% (the legal limit) or higher, the officer may properly charge you with DUI.

A “proper” DUI arrest must include probable cause. Officers cannot just stop you whenever they feel like it. The Constitution provides us with important rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. A traffic stop made without a legitimate basis is unreasonable from a constitutional standpoint. Probable cause is the key ingredient in a valid traffic stop. The officer must have a reasonable suspicion: he must have observed a traffic violation by the driver in question, noticed a safety defect in the vehicle, or seen a pattern of driving that indicates intoxication. Swerving and erratic speed are among the various indicators of intoxication.

The police officer may properly make a DUI arrest with probable cause and a properly administered BAC test that produces a reading above the legal limit. The traffic stop, however, is not the only scenario in which the police may arrest you for DUI. Another primary DUI process scenario is the DUI checkpoint.  The purpose of this article is to explain what a DUI checkpoint is and what legal requirements it is subject to. If the police charge you with a DUI in the sate of California, contact an experienced Santa Rosa DUI Defense attorney.

DUI Process at Checkpoints to Test the Sobriety of Drivers

DUI sobriety checkpoints are not subject to the same probable cause requirements as traffic stops.  They are an exception to the rule.  However, like traffic stops, checkpoints are also subject to certain state and federal Constitutional requirements. First, the criteria for stopping drivers must be neutral;  officers cannot single you out on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, or wealth. Secondly, they must put the checkpoint in a reasonable location.  Third, they must use sufficient safety measures at and around the checkpoint.  Part of these safety measures require that officers adequately advertise roadblocks in advance. Officers must also clearly mark checkpoints to show that they are official checkpoints. Fourth, only supervising police officers can make operational decisions at the checkpoint. Finally, officers can only stop drivers and detain them for an amount of time that is minimal and consistent with good judgment.  Failure by the state’s officers to comply with any of these requirements may be grounds for dismissal of a DUI charge.

If the police have charged you with DUI in Sonoma County, Mendocino County or Lake County California, contact an experienced Petaluma DUI Defense attorney.


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