Drinking and driving will land you in serious legal trouble, even if you are one of Hollywood’s most notable stars. Wedding Crashers actor Vince Vaughn was recently arrested on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles. The arrest reportedly occurred after Vaughn drove through a “zero tolerance” DUI checkpoint in Manhattan Beach shortly after 1 AM.
Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?
Yes. Getting behind the wheel and driving subjects you to laws of the state of California. California Vehicle Code Section 2814.2(a) VC explains that drivers “shall stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint inspection conducted by a law enforcement agency when signs and displays are posted requiring that stop.”
How are these checkpoints legal? In most situations, police have to have reasonable suspicion to believe you’ve broken the law to pull you over. However, courts have held that dedicated sobriety checkpoints are an exception to this rule. As long as police follow strict state and federal guidelines and provide sufficient warning that a checkpoint in place, any stops they make are lawful.
In order to be legal, checkpoints must satisfy all of the following requirements:
- Criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral
- Checkpoints must be located in a reasonable place
- Police must take proper safety precautions to reduce risk of injury
- The duration of a stop must be in good judgment
- Drivers cannot be detained for an excessive period of time
- Supervisory officers are obligated to make all operational decisions
- Checkpoints must be advertised to the public in advance, and
- Checkpoints must appear official and professional.
As long as police follow these guidelines, traffic stops will be lawful.
What Evidence Can Be Used to Support a DUI Arrest?
You can be arrested on suspicion of DUI even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is not above the legal limit of .08 percent. California provides police with the authority to make DUI arrests if there is sufficient evidence to show that a driver is incapable of driving a vehicle safely.
Evidence that may be used to support a DUI arrest include:
Chemical Testing: Chemical testing results (e.g., breathalyzer, blood test) can be used to show that there are drugs or alcohol in your system. These results do not necessarily have to show that these levels exceed the legal limit. Any amount of a mind-altering substance in your system could prevent you from driving safely. These tests are often used in conjunction with circumstantial evidence.
Failed Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests are used to gauge a driver’s ability to perform tasks that a sober person should be able to do easily. If you do not perform these tasks well, an officer can use those results to show that you were under the influence.
Communication: The way you interact with an officer during your stop is important. If you do not make eye contact, slur your words, or have trouble following the conversation, police can point to that to prove that you were intoxicated.
Smell or Presence of Alcohol: If an officer smells alcohol on your breath or sees an open container in your vehicle, this could also be used as evidence against you in a DUI case.
Consequences of a DUI in Los Angeles
What kind of consequences will Vince Vaughn face if he is charged and convicted of DUI? The answer depends on how many prior DUIs he has.
First-Time DUI: Most first-time DUI offenses are misdemeanors, punishable by:
- 3-5 years of probation
- More than $2,000 in fines
- Suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months
- Mandatory completion of DUI school or alcohol counseling, and/or
- Up to 6 months in jail.
Second DUI: Most second-time DUIs are also misdemeanors, punishable by:
- No less than 96 hours, but no more than 1 year, in jail
- Suspension of your driver’s license for 2 years
- Probation; and/or
- DUI school or counseling.
Third DUI: Third-time DUIs can also be charged as misdemeanors. Punishments can include:
- No less than 120 days, but no more than 1 year, in jail
- Suspension of your driver’s license for 3 years
- Probation; and/or
- DUI school or counseling.
Subsequent DUIs, or DUIs involving certain aggravating factors, will be charged as felonies. The consequences can include serious time in prison, the loss of your ability to drive, and staggering fines.
Get the Help of an Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
Have you been arrested on suspicion of DUI? You need the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will determine the best strategy for defending you against criminal charges. This may involve proving that the initial traffic stop was illegal or undermining the validity of the state’s evidence against you. Call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation.