When law enforcers stop you at a DUI checkpoint after suspecting you of driving under the influence, you need to know the necessary information to help you avoid an arrest. The tips come in handy even if the traffic officers decide to apprehend you, as you will have maintained your composure throughout the process.
Additionally, knowing what to do when stopped by a traffic officer helps you to avoid panicking, as you may give the officers too much information and incriminate yourself. Therefore, you should work with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can elaborate on the steps you could take at a DUI checkpoint. Moreover, your lawyer will guide you through any subsequent procedures after your encounter at the checkpoint to ensure that you comply with the regulations.
At Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney, we have handled numerous DUI matters for clients seeking legal assistance in Los Angeles, California. Some of these cases include circumstances where defendants strongly believed that their arrests were unlawful. We have the experience to help you learn what to do at a DUI stop. Our legal team is also ready to represent you at your DMV hearing or in court if prosecuted.
Understanding the DUI Laws Applicable in California
The rationale behind setting up DUI stops on the road is to enforce the law that prohibits DUI offenses. The different statutory regulations are strictly enforced because driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is among the most common traffic offenses in California. Normally, anyone suspected of being under the influence will have consumed enough alcohol to alter the normal brain function; hence, becoming imparied when behind the wheel.
Section 23152 of the Vehicle Code makes it an offense for anyone to drive under the influence of an alcoholic drink. Note that you may be found guilty of a DUI offense despite not reaching the Blood Alcohol Concentration limit of 0.08%. Therefore, a traffic officer may stop you upon any suspicion of being under the influence and form probable cause to arrest you.
As mentioned above, any driver with a BAC level of 0.08% or more can face a DUI arrest after taking a blood alcohol/breathalyzer test. The Vehicle Code issues the percentage as the acceptable alcoholic concentration in your blood. However, you also need to remember that the limit varies depending on the suspect in question. Thus, while the general BAC limit is set at 0.08%, commercial drivers should not exceed a 0.04 BAC.
The stricter restrictions are in place because of the sensitive nature of their work, which involves carrying people or goods in heavy vehicles. Consequently, having a higher BAC level than the allowed one can cause serious consequences that cause loss of lives and property damage in a DUI accident.
Similarly, the BAC limit is even stricter for drivers under twenty-one years, as they are below the legal drinking age. Consequently, you should not surpass the 0.01% limit if you fall within this category because you will likely face immediate arrest and a subsequent conviction.
Repeat offenders also fall within the 0.01% limit, as they are already under court scrutiny to make reforms. For example, if you are convicted of a previous DUI offense that leads to a probation sentence, you must observe restrictions that prevent you from drinking and driving. Therefore, any reading above the 0.01% mark will attract enhanced sentences based on the non-adherence to the regulations.
Lastly, minors under eighteen years should not have any detectable alcohol amount in their bloodstream upon taking an alcohol test. Since the minors are below the drinking age, any detectable BAC percentage warrants legal repercussions. Possible consequences include the loss of driving privileges until the involved minor reaches eighteen or twenty-one years.
What to Do When a Traffic Officer Stops You at a DUI Checkpoint
Based on DUI laws, you should remain alert for possible DUI stops along highways. However, sometimes the circumstances leading to a DUI stop may be unforeseen, meaning that you have to stay ready for an encounter with the traffic police.
Most of the pointers discussed below help prevent the traffic officers from forming a probable cause to make a DUI arrest. To do this, you need to provide the least amount of information possible, making it hard for the officers to conduct a lawful arrest.
Following the pointers is necessary because probable cause is a crucial factor to determine before officers apprehend you. Without establishing a valid reason for your arrest, you are more likely to be released from the DUI stop with a warning, if necessary. Some of the guidelines to observe when stopped at a DUI stop are:
Refuse to Answer any Questions or to Admit Anything
Soon after you pull over at the DUI checkpoint, a traffic officer may ask you several leading questions hoping to entrap you and therefore form probable cause for arrest. For example, the officer may ask if you have had a fun evening that included a few drinks. While the question may seem innocent and casual, your response may easily trigger the officer to ask additional questions that form sufficient probable cause for arrest.
Additionally, traffic officers may use semi-intimidating tactics to make you admit to driving under the influence. For example, an officer may make a remark concerning the smell of alcohol in your vehicle and ask you to admit to drinking and driving.
Most drivers succumb to the pressure and admit to fault out of fear that the traffic officers will search their cars and find the incriminating evidence. However, we recommend standing your ground and refusing to admit to any fault, as you will have limited the officers from finding enough information to warrant arrest.
Stay Calm and Polite Throughout your Interaction With the Officers
Another important guideline to uphold is remaining calm after the traffic officers stop you. Typically, you are more likely to give self-incriminating evidence if you begin to panic because you may provide too much incriminating information to the officers.
Sometimes, your fear of arrest may even make you ask for forgiveness, giving the officers enough details to form probable cause for arrest. Therefore, we recommend remaining calm even when you are in the wrong. In doing so, you will reduce the suspicion drawn to you and possibly leave the DUI stop without serious legal repercussions like arrest.
Further, you want to be polite to the officers and adhere to any non-consequential instructions they give. For example, if you need to produce your driver’s license and registration details, it helps to do so without causing a scene.
If the officers sense that you are trying to be rude, they may include these facts in your arrest report, making it harder to plead your case in subsequent hearings. Therefore, your behavior has a direct impact on the consequences you face at a DUI stop. As a result, you should aim to remain civil and composed.
Decline from Taking any Field Sobriety Tests
Field Sobriety Tests are also a common way to determine whether you are intoxicated, as they check on your body mobility abilities. Thus, the officer may instruct you to perform simple balance exercises that a sober person will easily do. Additionally, he/she may ask you simple logical questions to check on your brain’s impairment after alcohol consumption.
However, these sobriety tests are not mandatory and should not provide a final reference point for your DUI arrest. This is due to the unpredictable reactions from different people, as their results are not standard. For example, a person who suffers from vertigo may have difficulty performing balance exercises despite having no alcohol in the bloodstream.
Additionally, while the field sobriety tests should be administered with an objective purpose, most traffic officers will use them as sources of proof to affirm the suspicions they already have about your intoxication. Thus, any slight mistake you make when undertaking the field sobriety tests will be used against you, leading to an unfair formation of probable cause.
Hence, you can respectfully decline from participating in the physical checks because you are more likely to give the officers a cause for arrest. On the other hand, you do not face any immediate consequences for refusing to take the test. The inadequate information that officers gather should prompt them to let you go, even if you received a warning in an ideal situation.
However, the officers may form probable cause for arrest using other observations, meaning that you may still face subsequent charges and trial. If so, you should remember that refusing to take the field sobriety tests may be admitted as evidence during the trial. The goal of presenting your refusal to perform these tests is to show a possible awareness of your guilt at the DUI spot. Hence, the judge may derive incriminating details from your refusal, leading to increased chances of facing DUI penalties.
Decline from Taking Preliminary Alcohol Screenings
Traffic officers also require drivers suspected of being intoxicated to take a preliminary alcohol screening test to form probable cause for arrest. However, these tests are not mandatory, as they do not determine the blood alcohol content in your body at the time of screening. Moreover, no breath is retained as a sample when taking preliminary tests because they are not designed to indicate the exact BAC level in your body.
Since the alcohol screening is more advantageous for the traffic officers than it is for you, it helps to decline from undertaking it respectfully. However, you should note that you still have to undergo any required chemical or blood tests if you are arrested. The mandatory requirement is based on the implied consent rule that mandates arrested persons to submit to the DUI tests at the police station accordingly.
Besides learning what to do at a DUI stop, it also helps make adequate preparations for any police interaction before you begin to drive. For example, you should always carry your drivers’ license and identification card if the officers request these documents.
If you fail to present them at the DUI stop, the officers may decide to shift their focus from a suspected DUI to your failure to produce the license. Consequently, you may end up facing arrest or receiving a ticket to appear in court for this minor oversight.
Moreover, we advise our clients to maintain their vehicles and fulfill all insurance payments according to the required legal standards. Doing so will prevent the traffic officers at the DUI stop from finding additional faults that lead to arrest.
You should note that the officers are prone to deviating from the DUI suspicion to finding additional driving faults if you refuse to undertake any of the preliminary DUI checks. Therefore, you can limit their ability to apprehend you for additional faults by complying with the few regulations beforehand.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney Near Me
The enforcement of DUI laws often leads to multiple legal consequences, even when you were not necessarily drunk while driving. Therefore, knowing the different things to avoid or comply with at a DUI stop is crucial in determining whether you will face arrest. It is recommended that you consult an attorney for a more in-depth discussion of the DUI stop guidelines. In doing so, you have a better understanding of the law and deal with probing traffic officers at a DUI checkpoint.
At Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney, we offer high quality professional legal guidance on your DUI case for the best possible case outcome. Our competent team is ready to help you prepare defenses for your DMV or court case hearing, depending on the circumstances surrounding your DUI case. If you or a loved one requires the services of a DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles, California, reach us today at 323-464-6700.