San Diego police conducted an overnight DUI checkpoint in downtown San Diego between around 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 18th and 3 a.m. on Sunday, May 19th. A total of 813 drivers were screened for sobriety and a total of 10 were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
DUI Checkpoints are Totally Legal
Despite what their personal politics on the matter might be, these types of DUI checkpoints are totally legal in California. However, citizens have certain rights that they can maintain when faced with a DUI checkpoint.
For starters, sobriety tests conducted in the field, on the sides of busy highways and intersections, do little to show that a person is or is not intoxicated and, in fact, are not required by law to be completed. This includes portable breath tests and what are known as “field sobriety tests,” like the walk and turn, finger to nose test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which requires the person being tested to focus on the tip of a finger or pen while it is moved from side to side and up and down about 12 inches from the face. These tests are not even conclusive for an actual arrest, they only give police officers probable cause to effect a detention and move forward with further investigation. However, when a person submits to these tests, the results and image that they paint for the judge or jury hearing the case can damage the person’s defense, which is why these tests should be refused.
After a detention is made of someone who police suspect may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that person is typically transported back to a police station or hospital where a sample of either blood, breath or urine can be collected. Because of implied consent laws in California, refusal to provide a sample of either blood, breath or urine can result in the revocation of driving privileges and separate criminal charges. It is generally advised that the best thing a person can do when faced with the prospect of a chemical test is to submit to the test, but there are some rare instances where it would not be advised to submit to a chemical test, but these should be explained by experienced DUI defense counsel in the jurisdiction where a driver does most of his or her driving.
In instances where a person has been killed or injured, it is next to impossible to refuse to submit to chemical testing. Police can make contact with a judge who can authorize the forced extraction of a blood sample in a matter of minutes. However, since DUI checkpoints are preventative measures and not responsive, those detained on suspicion of driving under the influence have generally not hurt or killed anyone, so a forced extraction of a sample is highly unlikely following DUI charges that stem from a DUI checkpoint.
Always Get an Attorney
Throughout the DUI investigation process, suspects are advised not to answer any questions or make any comments. Immediately upon release from police custody, the suspect is further advised to seek legal counsel with specific experience handling and defending against DUI charges. This is perhaps the best thing that a suspect can do for his or her own defense.