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Drivers license and seat belt checkpoints, are they legal? Do they have adhere to the sane laws as DUI checkpoints?

Long Beach, CA |

I was arrested at a drivers license and seat belt checkpoint for an 11350. I pulled up to the checkpoint because I had to, I turned onto the street at a point where I couldn't turn to avoid it. I had my license, my seat belt own and was in no way intoxicated, so I thought I'd be fine. I handed the officer my license, he looked at it and continued to ask the typical question, my speech wasn't slurred my eyes were not bloodshot or anything that would indicate that I was drunk or high. He questioned me in my car for what felt like 3-5 minutes and eventually noticed a zip lock bag in my pocket which he made me take out and show him, which had prescription pills in it. Can I fight the arrest based on the check point? That he questioned me for longer than he should have?

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Attorney answers 3


These can be potential defenses to your case. All checkpoints must follow certain procedures. Ingersoll vs. Palmer is the key case that determined the proper procedures that must have occurred. It would be best for you to contact an attorney to assist you. Make sure you request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest.
Robert Driessen


I have no idea why the previous answer is telling you to contact the DMV. You would need to do that if you were arrested for DUI, but since you indicate that you were not - that you were arrested for possession of drugs, then that piece of advice doesn't apply to your situation at all.

To answer your question, yes - the license checkpoints and/or seat belt checkpoints are considered "regulatory" or "safety" checkpoints just like DUI checkpoints. They must set them up properly, run them properly and insure minimal intrusion into your activities. Especially if this was specifically a driver's license and seatbelt checkpoint and you were in compliance with those. If those were readily ascertainable from the outset, more than a brief conversation with you seems a bit excessive.

Of course, during the contact, the officers have their "plain view" and could potentially justify a longer detention based on things they saw, heard, smelled, observed, etc. Whether or not they will be able to do so in your case will be determined by the police reports, records of the checkpoint and the timing of your stop and detention.

Given the complexity of this situation, you need a good criminal defense attorney to represent you.



It seems to me that according to 14607.6. (b) "A peace officer shall not stop a vehicle for the sole reason of determining whether the driver is properly licensed.", that a checkpoint that asks for ID is illegal. Moreover, under the Palmer decision, under G: Length and Nature of Detention, these checkpoints must only stop cars "long enough for the officer to question the driver briefly and to look for signs of intoxication, such as alcohol on the breath, slurred speech, and glassy or bloodshot eyes. If the driver does not display signs of impairment, he or she should be permitted to drive on without further delay."


Checkpoint stops are legal, but they have to adhere to certain guidelines in order to establish compliance. You need to speak to an experienced attorney in order to determine whether there are viable defenses for you.