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DUI CHECK POINTS: SURVIVAL TIPS

DUI.jpgAlthough the Holidays are when many Police Officers and California Highway Patrol are stepping up their enforcement of Sonoma County DUI checkpoints. Any time of year a Santa Rosa DUI checkpoint can be in place. It's often the off time of year when some folks reckon that they can get away with a few drinks. Avoiding DUI penalties and hefty DUI insurance rate increases.

A sobriety checkpoint is a tool that law enforcement use to evaluate random drivers for signs of drug and alcohol impairment. A sobriety checkpoint may be a stop on the road, freeway, or other public road. Law enforcement decides ahead of time what process to use when stopping vehicles (i.e. every fourth car is stopped).

Contrary to what many people thing, sobriety checkpoints are legal. In 1990, the United States Supreme Court declared that sobriety checkpoints did not violate citizen's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. They decided that when these checks are preformed with minimal intrusion under specified guidelines, the benefit of these checkpoints greatly outweighs the minor intrusion on individual's rights. Each state has adopted laws of their own regarding sobriety checkpoints. Currently, approximately eleven states prohibit the use of sobriety roadblocks; however California is NOT one of the eleven.

The most common signs of impairment which are looked for during a sobriety checkpoint stop are:


  • the odor of alcoholic beverages or drugs

  • blood shot eyes

  • the presence of alcoholic containers or drug paraphernalia in the vehicle

  • slurred or difficult speech

  • fumbling or other physical signs of intoxication

  • admission of drug or alcohol use

  • inconsistent responses to answers

  • detection of alcohol by a passive alcohol screening tool


As with any routine stop, you are required to provide identifying information such as your name, address, driver's license, and registration. By law, you do not have to say anything. REMAIN SILENT. Anything you say could potentially be used against you. Admitting to drinking or consuming drugs (even in small amounts: "I just had one!") can be construed as admitting guilt. DON'T SAY ANYTHING.

Most police officers will not tell you this, but you do NOT have to take field sobriety tests (FST). Those are the ones where you have to walk a line, touch your nose, and do other similar stunts. These are designed for failure. You are not required by law to take these tests. However, if you do refuse you probably will be arrested on suspicion of DUI. What is best for you defense later on down the road is not always the best if you are trying to avoid an arrest all together.

While you are not required to take the initial breathalyzer test, which many consider to be just another FST, you ARE required, under implied consent laws, to submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine, at the request of an officer upon arrest on suspicion of DUI. These may be done, out of the flow of traffic, at the scene of the checkpoint, or you may be brought to a nearby facility for this testing. If you are not arrested after testing, you are free to leave and do not have to say anything.

If you were charged with drunk driving after a sobriety checkpoint investigation this holiday season, you need the help of a competent attorney as soon as possible. Contact JVS Law today for your free initial consultation. 

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