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Are DUI Checkpoints Constitutional?

DUI checkpoints, a.k.a. sobriety checkpoints, are handled on a state-by-state basis. Some jurisdictions allow them. Others do not. In other words, the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints is somewhat unsettled, at least on the national level.

So far, lawmakers (and voters) in individual states have decided for themselves.

DUI Checkpoints Legal in California

Each state interprets the legality of checkpoints under their state constitutions and/or the federal constitution.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), DUI checkpoints are legal in 37 states. California is one of those states. Moreover, California puts on roughly 2,500 checkpoints every year.

As we wrote in a prior post about DUI checkpoints, checkpoints have ruled legal in California because DUI poses a danger that outweighs the minimal intrusion of being stopped briefly without probable cause.

But law enforcement doesn't have carte blanche authority to do forced blood draws on everyone - they must follow regulations that begin with observations, such as the odor of alcohol or marijuana, slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes. Only then (generally speaking) are drivers asked to do more testing.

One example of a recent checkpoint took place on Apr. 20, 2018 (which happens to be the infamous "420 Day" in celebration of cannabis) in the city of Escondido at N. Ash St. and E. El Norte Pkwy.

DUI Checkpoints Draw Gut Reactions

For those arguing from the constitutional perspective, DUI checkpoints pose a problem, because many drivers haven't shown that they've done anything wrong prior to getting roped into a checkpoint. Law enforcement officers generally need a good reason to pull someone over, like observing a driver speeding, weaving, etc.

On the other hand, the government has a legitimate interest in safeguarding public safety by preventing deaths and injuries from drunk or impaired driving.

Call Christoph Law Offices

The attorneys of Christoph Law Offices - Nicholas and William Christoph - have defended clients against DUI charges for more than 35 years. Christoph Law Offices is located across from the Vista courts.

Call 760-659-2149 for a free consultation.