As the end of the year approaches, you’re likely to see some sobriety checkpoints on the roads. California law does allow them. Law enforcement agencies set up these checkpoints – typically more so around holidays, weekends and other times and places when there are likely to be a lot of drunk drivers on the road.
There have been complaints that these checkpoints are a violation of Americans’ Fourth Amendment’s protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” since requiring a driver to pull over is in a sense a seizure of the vehicle. However, the right to set up checkpoints that either make random stops (for example, every tenth vehicle) or a stop of every single vehicle has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Can you legally avoid a checkpoint?
If you’re summoned into a checkpoint by a law enforcement officer, you do need to comply just as you would if you were pulled over while driving. However, what if you spot a checkpoint ahead and choose to try to avoid it? Is that legal?
It is as long as you’re not violating any traffic laws. For example, you can’t make a U-turn at an intersection where they aren’t allowed. You also can’t go down a one-way street the wrong way. Even if you’re able to avoid the checkpoint legally, if you’re close enough for the officers manning the checkpoint to see you, you’re at least going to attract some attention.
If you’ve been charged with DUI after being pulled into a sobriety checkpoint, it’s wise to seek legal guidance. Depending on the situation, it may be possible to get the charge reduced or even dropped. Find out what your options are.