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DUI sobriety checkpoints legal in California: some considerations

Many motorists across Alameda County and the rest of California might negatively perceive -- and for a number of reasons -- one enforcement tool that is employed by police agencies throughout the state.

Namely, that is the sobriety checkpoint, which can be -- and routinely is -- set up by police departments pursuant to its allowance under state law. We discussed the basics of DUI checkpoints some time back in an article on our website, noting therein that officers overseeing those stops "must take several steps to ensure that they are being administered according to proper procedures."

There are compelling reasons for that, perhaps most fundamentally that some reasonable counterweights must balance out the reality that checkpoint stops of motorists occur absent any reasonable suspicion by an officer that a driver has engaged in any illegal activity.

In other words: no probable cause -- which is typically an ironclad prerequisite to a police stop and arrest -- exists to warrant a checkpoint-related stop of a driver.

Understandably, many motorists have a problem with that. Moreover, they undoubtedly have a problem also with an officer's ability to make an arrest and bring a criminal charge for activity or behavior that has nothing to do with impaired driving. Sobriety checkpoints often result in arrests for drugs, license violations, weapons offenses and other illegalities -- again, with an officer's presence initially owing to only an authorized stop not requiring probable cause.

For clear reasons (most obvious, perhaps, being that probable cause is a stated constitutional requirement in connection with a search and seizure of evidence), that can be a sensitive matter for the driving public. As such, sobriety checkpoints come with some citizen safeguards, such as advance notice, some type of process to prevent targeting of select vehicles, an abbreviated amount of time in which a driver can customarily be detained and so forth.

Questions or concerns regarding sobriety checkpoints or any other police enforcement tools or tactics can be directed to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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