Have you been arrested or charged with driving under the influence (DUI) after being questioned at a sobriety checkpoint in Sonoma County? You have the right to secure legal representation and you do not have to take any action without first consulting with our Sonoma County DUI attorneys. As with any encounter with law enforcement, it is critical to know your rights as the police may use a driver's unfamiliarity with the law to their advantage. At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., we know your rights and can help to keep you out of trouble with the law.
Are DUI Checkpoints in Sonoma County Legal?
The short answer is yes. Questions about the legality of DUI checkpoints often center on discussions of a citizen’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. In the case of a traffic stop, this typically means that police would need probable cause to conduct a search, seize property, or make an arrest. Opponents of DUI stops argue that checkpoints call probable cause into question as police stop all cars indiscriminately. However, in 1990, the question was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was ruled that DUI checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment, as long as police use lawful techniques and practices.
Actions to take at a DUI stop include:
- Limit what you say: While you are required to provide basic identifying information such as your driver’s license, you do not have to answer questions about your personal affairs. The police may question you in the hopes that you freely admit information which can be used against you. Inform the officers that you are exercising your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
- Field sobriety tests are optional: If an officer suspects that you may be intoxicated, it is probable that you will be asked to perform a field sobriety test. These tests are used by police to gather evidence, not as an opportunity for drivers to prove their innocence. Roadside sobriety tests are voluntary and you do not have to participate.
- Do not consent to a search of your vehicle: An officer may ask to search your vehicle in an effort to establish probable cause for an arrest. If you are not being placed under arrest, police need your consent in order to search you or your vehicle and you are not required to comply.
How to Locate DUI Checkpoints in Sonoma County
One of the many requirements for the lawful operation of a DUI checkpoint is that the police must announce them beforehand. However, checkpoint advertisements are not always easy to find and motorists may have to do some research in order to learn about the stops near them. Luckily, as technology continues to advance, more resources are becoming available to concerned drivers. When a driver knows where a checkpoint will be, it is perfectly legal to choose an alternate route.
Methods for locating DUI stops include:
- Newspapers: Both print and online newspapers will often report on upcoming DUI stops.
- Websites: Online resources such as The Roadblock Registry and Mr. Checkpoint keep listings of roadblocks.
- Television: Local news outlets typically report on upcoming traffic stops.
- Mobile applications: Traffic apps with community involvement, such as “Waze”, will sometimes list DUI checkpoints in real time.
Accused of DUI? Start your Defense Today – Call (707) 418-5352
Encountering a DUI checkpoint in Sonoma County while on the road is a likelihood that most drivers will face at some point during their lifetime. The actions you choose to take after an arrest or accusation of driving under the influence can greatly impact the outcome of your case. Protecting your freedom begins with contacting the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. Whether this is your first run in with the law or you have previous DUI convictions, our Sonoma County DUI attorneys can work with you personally to build a powerhouse defense.
Stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Sonoma County? Contact our firm and learn about how to beat the charges against you.
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