Yes, you do!
Although, by law, DUI checkpoints have to be announced to the public a few days before they are set up and operated, that does not necessarily mean that you are going to know where and when that checkpoint may be. The law only requires that the checkpoint be generally announced for a general area on a particular date.
Specific times and specific locations do not have to be given in any announcement. That means that if you live in one area of the Coachella Valley and the announcement is made in a random publication in another part of the Coachella Valley, you may never see it announced before you drive up on it some night.
We try to notify people in advance of any checkpoints that we are aware of through our Facebook page.
There is no established season for checkpoints to be set up and operated by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office (RSO) , California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the local law enforcement agencies of the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Indio. Most people believe that they will usually be operated during holidays seasons when there are more people out drinking and driving…or smoking and driving. But, that is not necessarily true, and we don’t operate under that theory.
You see, those police agencies mentioned above will obtain the money to operate the checkpoints from the state government by way of receiving grant money if applied for by the police. That money represents the OVERTIME pay used by a government agency to pay the officers who man (or woman) the checkpoint. So we believe that when the officers need some extra vacation money, back-to-school-clothes money or a variety of other special times in their consumer lives, they will use their grant money to fund the net that they will try to trap you in and which will reward them with some extra cash in their pockets.
The grants require that a local law enforcement agency justify the need for a checkpoint in a particular geographic area where there is a high rate of alcohol related accidents or arrests.
In fact, the law that applies to the constitutionality/legality of where a checkpoint is located requires that there be some statistical data showing the need for traffic safety enforcement in the location that the driving safety checkpoint is to be set up at.
So the government and the cops are telling you that it is all being done in the name of traffic safety…which happens to include DUI enforcement.
If you are unfortunate enough to drive up upon a checkpoint there is something that you can do if you do not want to go through it for whatever reason. If you can safely and legally turn around or make a turn onto another street, then you can legally do so. The cops cannot stop you just for avoiding a checkpoint. If they stop you for going another way to avoid the checkpoint, they must have probable cause to stop you for going in a different direction. So as long as you don’t make an illegal u-turn or interfere with any other traffic on the road, you should be okay.
Are DUI checkpoints legal?
If you do have to go through the checkpoint, you should cooperate with the cops. They have the right by law to ask for your drivers license and proof of insurance. And during their contact with you, they can ask you if you’ve been drinking or smoking dope or if you have ingested any type of drugs that could cause you to be an unsafe driver. If they smell alcohol they can ask you to take a preliminary breath test. That test is voluntary on your part. But if you refuse it, they may decide to arrest you to force you to take an implied consent DUI test that you agreed to do when you signed up for a drivers license in the State of California.
Summer is just around the corner. Be alert and know that you may see a checkpoint wherever you may be traveling in our beautiful valley.
If you do get arrested for any offense, give our office a call as soon as you can and we will help you out of the case as effectively as can be done.