December 15, 2017 By Paul Wallin

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in California?

Every weekend, law enforcement agencies throughout the state of California set up DUI checkpoints in an effort to prevent drunk drivers from causing injury or death to themselves or others. In response, there are always people who proclaim that doing so is “illegal.” If DUI checkpoints aren’t legal, how can police agencies continue to set them up every week?

Let’s explore DUI checkpoints and why law enforcement is allowed by law to set up checkpoints in California.

Do DUI Checkpoints Violate the Fourth Amendment?

Where does the idea that DUI checkpoints are illegal come from?

Many people believe checkpoints violate Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches. However, both the state and the U.S. Supreme Court have ruled that they do not so long as authorities follow certain procedures when setting up DUI checkpoints.

In the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court case Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz (No. 88-1897), the court ruled that DUI checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as long as police follow specific orders when conducting checkpoints. In Ingersoll v. Palmer (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1321, the California Supreme Court approved the use of sobriety checkpoints as long as authorities follow “strict guidelines” regarding checkpoints. These guidelines include:

  • Limited use of discretion by field officers (i.e. using a pre-set pattern such as stopping every third driver)
  • Setting up checkpoints at areas where DUI incidents happen more frequently
  • Letting the public know about checkpoints ahead of time (this is not required, but highly encouraged to avoid violating the Fourth Amendment)
  • Drivers should be detained for a limited amount of time

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

As long as law enforcement officials follow the requirements listed above, DUI checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment and are legal. According to California Vehicle Code Section 2814.2, you are required to stop and submit to police inspection at a DUI checkpoint when signs are displayed requiring you to stop.

So, why would police set up DUI checkpoints when they must follow such strict conditions? The answer is simple. Evidence shows that sobriety checkpoints have never been very effective when it comes to arresting drunk drivers. However, warning drivers about the threat of a DUI checkpoint can “scare people sober.” It has been argued by many that if a person knows there is going to be a DUI checkpoint in the vicinity of where they will be driving, they are more likely to not drive a vehicle while intoxicated.

Contact the DUI Defense Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today

A DUI conviction could have a negative impact on you for the rest of your life. That is why you should not hesitate to contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer if you or someone you love has been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.

At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled DUI defense attorneys have over 40 years of experience successfully helping clients accused of drinking and driving. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI defense lawyer available near you no matter where you are located.

Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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