July 1, 2014
On June 20, 2014, there were two sobriety checkpoints set up in Santa Clarita. One was positioned where Newhall Avenue meets Valle Del Oro; the other was located near the intersection of McBean Parkway and Magic Mountain Parkway. Drivers were stopped, interviewed, tested, cited and arrested.
As you can expect more of the same throughout the summer, it is advisable to learn how to avoid checkpoints and what to do when they are unavoidable.
Sobriety checkpoints are roadblocks set up by local law enforcement officers in an attempt to ensnare drunk drivers. There are many rules and regulations that officers must follow when setting up a sobriety checkpoint including publicizing beforehand where they will be located. Therefore, if you know you are going out on a busy, summer weekend, you might as well look up where the checkpoints will be located.
Under federal regulations, officers cannot setup checkpoints on interstate highways, so get to the highway. On your way there, try to avoid major thoroughfares near bars, restaurants and clubs. If there are no checkpoints in the area, there are likely roving saturation patrols looking for intoxicated drivers.
If you see a checkpoint, it is not advisable to make a U-turn to get away. Checkpoints are often equipped with a chase car tasked with following drivers who behave suspiciously. Chase officers assume that drivers who turn away from roadblocks are intoxicated. However, it is unconstitutional to pull over every vehicle that makes legal turns to avoid a roadblock.
When you are approaching a Santa Clarita roadblock, try to remain calm. Tell your passengers to keep quiet and only speak if and when spoken to. Remember that you have the right to avoid answering questions and you do not have to take a breath test or field sobriety test. If you are arrested, do not accept the charges or make a deal. It is possible to fight sobriety checkpoint related charges.
There have been many cases in recent years in which roadblocks have been declared unconstitutional. Here are a few examples of wrongful practices:
- The traffic stop was not supported by a reasonable suspicion of a crime.
- The location of the roadblock was different than approved location.
- An overall lack of proof that vehicles were stopped systematically.
- The screening officer lacked proper training in DUI detection.
Anyone charged with a DUI in Santa Clarita would be well advised to exercise his or her right to an attorney and remain silent. There are ample opportunities to fight DUI charges in Santa Clarita, especially when the arrest occurred at a sobriety checkpoint. Please contact our DUI defense lawyers to discuss your case at absolutely no cost.