Police likely to increase drunk driving vigilance over the summer

Many people in Southern California plan to celebrate our state's beautiful weather and numerous recreational activities by having some drinks with friends. It is all right to have a good time; however, anyone, especially those who are underage, should understand that getting arrested for drunk driving often results in steep penalties.

For example, California strictly enforces a zero tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21; an underage driver is not allowed to have any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system-specifically, a blood alcohol content over 0.01 percent. The California Department of Motor Vehicles states that underage drivers who are believed to have been driving intoxicated will face a driver's license suspension of one year. The same applies for those who refuse to submit to a chemical test. License suspension or revocation times are even longer for subsequent offenses, and drivers must pay a $100 reinstatement fee to get their licenses back.

Rules and restrictions govern the use of checkpoints

During any busy holiday season, police can be expected to increase their efforts to catch people driving under the influence. This includes the summer months, particularly during peak celebration times such as the Fourth of July. One common tool that law enforcement uses to screen for drunk driving is the sobriety checkpoint. It's not uncommon to encounter these set up at roadsides throughout Southern California. During these checkpoints, a large number of people may be pulled over and possibly subjected to field sobriety tests or other testing, even if they hadn't been drinking. For instance, more than 1,000 people were stopped at a Burbank checkpoint at the beginning of last summer, reported the Los Angeles Times. Despite the potential for end-of-the-school-year revelry, none of these drivers were actually determined to have been driving while intoxicated, despite several field sobriety tests being conducted.

According to MADD, police must adhere to a set of rules so sobriety checkpoints remain legal. These usually include the following:

  • Letting the public know of the checkpoint's time and location in advance.
  • Only pulling over a certain sequence of vehicles, such as every third car.
  • Not appearing to politically or racially profile a driver.

Police must also have a clear reason to arrest a person on suspicion of drunk driving. They frequently use field sobriety tests to screen for signs of intoxication during checkpoints. These methods are not always reliable, says ABC Action News. For example, a person with problems balancing or walking may be mistaken as drunk, even if he or she is completely sober. Those with speech impairments or other cognitive or physical impediments may appear to be intoxicated and can fail a police officer's screening.

Contacting an attorney

A DUI conviction can affect a person's driving record and reputation for years. If you're facing drunk driving charges, contact an experienced defense attorney who can protect your rights.

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