Although the 4th of July falls on a Tuesday this year rather than the weekend, do not rule out the people enjoying a little extra partying, and the police setting up a few extra DUI checkpoints. As always, there will be many celebrations over the weekend. Then some people will have to go to work on that Monday, July 3rd, while others may get that day off. This means they would get a 4-day weekend. Work or no work on that 3rd, people are going to party hard anyway.
Anticipating a spike in alcohol consumption, the police will inevitably have more DUI checkpoints than normal. Some checkpoint locations will be announced beforehand, while others will pop up unexpectedly. If you are driving and see a checkpoint up ahead, it actually is not illegal to make a u-turn to avoid the checkpoint, as long as you do so legally. The police at the checkpoint would not drive after you if they see you making a legal u-turn unless you are doing so erratically.
If you continue to drive on to the checkpoint, then you will follow the officer’s instructions of coming to a stop and answering basic questions such as “where are you coming from,” “where are you headed,” “have you been drinking tonight,” and if yes, “how much have you had to drink?” Not only is the officer listening to your answers, they are observing your pupils for signs of redness or dilation. They are listening to how you deliver your answers and are using their nose to identify any alcohol on your breath. In addition to observing you, the officer is also observing your vehicle in case you have passengers, alcohol, or other illegal contraband. This is not a detailed search. They are only quickly scanning what is in plain view. If you check out with the officer, you will be free to leave the checkpoint to drive on to your destination. If the officer concludes that you have been driving under the influence, they will arrest you.
In California, a first-time DUI offense can cost tens of thousands of dollars. This price includes insurance spikes, your impounded car, retaking a driver’s course, and more. Had you been in an accident because you were driving under the influence, that cost would increase drastically to cover vehicle repairs and hospital bills. Getting a sober driver like a Lyft or Uber would only cost you a few bucks. They would have no problem if they came across a DUI checkpoint while driving you home.
Wherever you plan on celebrating America’s birthday this year, plan how you will be getting home at the end of the night ahead of time. Either arrange for a friend or family member to pick you up, designate a sober driver, or call for an Uber or Lyft. This way, you do not have to worry about driving yourself home safely because someone else will already have that covered. DUI checkpoints will not be your problem!