California law allows police departments to erect DUI checkpoints where cops can stop you (the motorist) and determine if you are driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. At the roadblock, you could wonder if the police violated your rights from the way they handle the situation. Like any other person, traffic officers make mistakes. However, if the cops make mistakes and don’t follow the law, they could be infringing on your rights.
During a DUI stop, there are many questions you might have, especially if the cops didn’t do things by the book. Like other motorists, you could ask yourself what probable cause did the police have for stopping you? Why did the police officer use incorrectly calibrated devices? Why did the officers force field sobriety tests without reasonable suspicion? Such are questions drivers often have when something doesn’t appear right, and the police shouldn’t have detained them unlawfully.
Every DUI case is different, so you need legal counsel from your Los Angeles DUI Lawyer to determine what mistakes the police officers made during your stop and the odds of having your case getting dismissed. Here are the common police errors in DUI checkpoints.
Unlawful Traffic Stops
California Penal Code 836a needs traffic officers to have sufficient reasons to pull you over at a DUI checkpoint. It is illegal for cops to stop motorists because of their race, dressing, or appearance. The law needs the police, before stopping you, to identify possible signs of your drunk driving. These signs include but not limited to:
- Driving too slowly
- Decelerating and accelerating without any reason
- Driving in a wavy pattern on the highway
Your DUI lawyer could build a defense against your charges if the police stopped you without reasonable suspicion and have your case dismissed too.
Erroneous BAC Tests/ Results
The police can compromise your rights if they mess with your BAC test results. The NHTSA has particular procedures that traffic officers must follow for accurate breath and blood tests. These procedures include appropriate calibration and maintenance of the device. If the police flout these guidelines, the accuracy of the results gets compromised, and you could get arrested for erroneous results.
Inaccurate positives in the tests can be because of:
- Poor calibration of the machine
- Contaminated breath samples
- Underlying conditions at the time of blood tests like diabetes and hypoglycemia
- Improper record keeping. The cops are needed to observe you for approximately 15 minutes before performing the test. They should record results of every test made
Forceful Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)laid out guidelines that traffic cops should abide by when conducting field sobriety tests. The police perform field sobriety tests if they have reasonable suspicion to stop you, as explained above. After pulling you over the cops are needed to establish if you show signs of intoxication like:
- Smelling alcohol
- Even red eyes
- Slurred speech
If you show these signs, the police have the right to proceed with field sobriety tests like:
- One-leg stand
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus
In California, the law does not prohibit you from declining a field sobriety test. If the police demand a test even if you show no signs of intoxication, they are violating your rights. Should the police arrest you for not consenting to a test despite them lacking probable cause, you need to contact your Los Angeles DUI Lawyer for advice.
Extended Traffic Stops
California law does not allow the police to prolong the duration of a DUI stop without probable cause. Far too often, cops extend stops at DUI checkpoints to identify other criminal offenses without reasonable suspicion, and that’s unlawful.
The only time a traffic officer is allowed to delay your stop is when they notice signs of intoxication. If there is no other probable cause, then the extended stop is unlawful. With a reputable DUI attorney, you could suppress evidence against you in court using the illegal stop.
Posing Questions That Could Incite Incriminating Statements
The police are trained to quiz suspects, and you are no exception if they stop you at a DUI checkpoint. While they are allowed to ask questions after they pull you over, some questions are termed as incriminating. If you answer such questions, you give the cops the power to violate your rights.
For example, if police ask you if you were drinking before you drove and you say yes, they will get you out of the car and search your vehicle. You could end up getting arrested. But if you say no, the police cannot do a car search without reasonable suspicion.
If the police, after telling them you didn’t drink before driving proceeds to perform acts that aren’t permissible, that’s another error they make, and your lawyer can use this as your defense in court.
Police Errors Happen
Police errors at DUI Checkpoint stops are not uncommon. The police could make a mistake and intimidate you since they have powers and jurisdiction to arrest and charge you. All that is needed is help and legal counsel from a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer with many years’ experience with DUI cases. Your DUI attorney should also be aware of errors the traffic police commit at a checkpoint, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Your lawyer will use these errors to defend you if you are arrested for a drunk driving offense.