Police can use DUI checkpoints in California, and they do it in an effort to catch drunk drivers. The checkpoints are effective because they essentially force all drivers to stop, rather than making police officers look for signs of impairment before conducting a traffic stop. Any drivers who are then notably intoxicated at the checkpoint can be arrested, while other drivers are free to go.
However, it is important to remember that the police really look for more than just drunk drivers. They look for any type of impairment, and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) specifically wants to get the point across that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.”
In reality, you can get a DUI for any type of impaired driving. You may be impaired by illegal drugs. You may be impaired by prescription drugs or medications. Regardless, if it impacts your driving, you could face arrest. Do not assume that you’ll get through the checkpoint just because you have not had anything to drink that night.
At the same time, the officers will ask to see every driver’s license at the time of the stop. Even if you are in no way impaired, you have to show that license and related documentation. You could theoretically get in trouble with the law if you are driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, driving without proper insurance or breaking a host of other traffic laws.
If you encounter a DUI checkpoint, the ramification can be serious, regardless of how much alcohol you’ve consumed. Make sure you know all of your rights and defense options.