The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced they will be conducting a DUI checkpoint in the city of Dana Point on Friday night, September 4, 2009. It will be from 7:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning. There is no specific location disclosed.
Of course, the best suggestion is to choose a designated driver. Should you end up facing the checkpoint, keep some things in mind:
- The checkpoint is required to be set up in a way to give you some advance notice of it (signs, flashing lights, etc) and a way to avoid it if you want. There should be a side street or legal way to avoid going through the checkpoint if you do not want to go through it. The case law about checkpoints say that the police cannot stop you simply because you avoid the checkpoint unless you do something illegal (such as an illegal U-turn) or are obviously impaired in the way you’re driving, even before you get to the checkpoint. If you see a checkpoint warning sign, look for an “escape route.”
- If you go through the checkpoint, they may not necessarily stop every car. The cases that deal with checkpoints say that they cannot unduly impede traffic flow. If the cars start stacking up, they have to change their game plan and stop fewer cars, but on a consistent basis – every second, third, fifth or whatever will get traffic moving again. Be calm, cooperative and safe.
- If you are contacted and detained for further evaluation, remember your constitutional rights. You are free from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. Although they may not be required to read your Miranda warnings to you (see this post for more), you don’t have to agree to answer questions either. If you are detained, you must provide your true name, but you are not required to answer clearly incriminating questions such as “have you been drinking?”
- Also remember – field sobriety tests are not mandatory. The police are not required to tell you that you do not have to participate. The only thing you are required to do is submit to a chemical test for blood alcohol levels, but that is only AFTER they arrest you. They may request that you blow into a portable breath analyzer as part of their investigation. If it is not the “official” test AFTER your arrest, you can decline to blow into the machine.
If you are arrested, they will take your driver’s license and issue you a pink piece of paper from the DMV. That is your temporary license to drive. If you do not request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended, so don’t miss that deadline.
Be safe, but if you are pulled over or detained in a DUI checkpoint, keep your rights in mind. If they do arrest you, you must take action to save your license with the DMV and fight the DUI charges against you in court.