Encountering a DUI checkpoint can be a bothersome stop, but their purpose is to keep motorists safe. Last year in California, there were 30 alcohol-related fatalities and 2,017 people arrested under suspicion of DUI during Labor Day weekend alone. During holiday weekends and throughout the year, law enforcement agencies across the state periodically conduct DUI checkpoints to keep these numbers down.
The checkpoints are designed to allow local law enforcement to interview drivers and find those who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some law enforcement agencies will seldom conduct DUI checkpoints, but California’s police and deputies conduct them relatively frequently. Here are a few other points regarding DUI checkpoints that you may not be aware of:
Standards and procedures can vary by state. Just because you’ve encountered a DUI checkpoint in California doesn’t mean it will be handled the same way in another state. As a matter of fact, some states don’t allow police to hold DUI checkpoints.
In states where DUI checkpoints aren’t allowed, police will instead conduct license and insurance checks. At these stops, police check drivers for proper documentation, but they’re also looking out for anyone exhibiting signs of alcohol or drug use. Just because the checkpoint wasn’t specifically for a DUI doesn’t mean the police can’t investigate.
Police at DUI checkpoints follow what’s known as a “neutral formula.” Basically, it means they adhere to the same procedure for every vehicle that goes through the checkpoint. They don’t dismiss a driver who looks like he/she hasn’t been drinking, and they won’t automatically detain someone who appears to be a drinker. Officers will go through their protocol with each driver and if signs of possible intoxication are present, they’ll have that driver pull to the side to take a breathalyzer test.
All DUI checkpoints must be clearly marked for safety. Odds are, if you’ve encountered a DUI checkpoint on California roads, you knew it was there long before you arrived. They’re typically well-lit, marked off with road cones, flares, and several police officers.
California law enforcement officers also check your driver’s license at the checkpoints. While police in other states check for signs of alcohol consumption during license and insurance checks, our police do it the opposite way. When police speak with a driver going through a checkpoint, the officer will make sure that the motorist has a valid license. If not, the driver may be ticketed, or even arrested.
If you’re driving and you see a DUI checkpoint up ahead, don’t worry. The officers who conduct them are specially trained to look for signs of alcohol consumption to every driver with whom they speak. Those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol have nothing to worry about, and going through the checkpoint doesn’t take very long. An unemployed 46-year-old Santa Clarita man was arrested for doing harm to an elder/dependent adult.