Now that the 2012 “Winter Holiday Anti-DUI Crackdown” has ended, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has posted the results. In keeping with the “Avoid the 38” DUI Campaign, 38 Orange County law enforcement agencies conducted sobriety checkpoints, special saturation patrols and routine patrols for the Winter Holiday period December 14, 2012 through January 1, 2013. Not all numbers are in yet but preliminarily, it is being reported that there were 971 arrests for DUI made during the 19-day period. This number is up from the previous year, which resulted in 836 arrests for DUI.
I am a DUI defense lawyer and my practice is based in Orange County, CA. Over the past 20 years I have seen the incorporation of these checkpoints and saturation patrols, into the law enforcement agencies and have watched them evolve. What a lot of people don’t know is that the law enforcement officers must conduct these stops under very strict guidelines. For instance, it is perfectly legal for someone to purposely avoid a checkpoint. If an officer notices this, they cannot then pull them over unless there is legal cause to do so. Avoiding the checkpoint is not legal cause. It is important that anyone who has been arrested at checkpoint hire an attorney who is familiar with the guidelines and laws associated with such an arrest. If any of the required steps are not followed and documented, it could result in the case being dismissed.
What Are Some Of The Guidelines?
1. Each agency that conducts a checkpoint must have a supervising officer who is in charge of the operation of the checkpoint. The supervisor makes the decisions as to where and when it will take place.
2. The checkpoint must be in an area with a history of DUI arrests or accidents. Also, safety to the public must be taken into consideration when determining where the checkpoint will be.
3. The upcoming checkpoints must be made public, prior to the date scheduled.
4. There must be signs, lights, the presence of police officers or marked cars, so that it is the visible to any approaching drivers. This gives drivers the opportunity to avoid he checkpoint if they so desire.
Orange County is known for being one of the most aggressive and strict when it comes to driving under the influence. Lawmakers and interested groups are continually coming up with newer and more aggressive ways to seek out, arrest and convict people suspected of driving under the influence. Other counties in California are beginning to look to Orange County as a leader in the fight against drunk drivers. Because of this, I always question the initial stop first. An officer must have probable cause to pull someone over. There seems to be an increase in officers “fishing” to find drivers who are under the influence and initiating a stop without cause. My clients are often surprised to learn that, even if they were intoxicated, if the stop was illegal, the case can be dismissed. So, it is very important to understand the guidelines that officers must adhere to.
Anyone who has been arrested for DUI in Orange County should seek the advice and assistance of a DUI Defense Attorney in Orange County, CA. Because Orange County is so strict, an attorney who is familiar with, and has a good working relationship with, the judges and district attorneys in the Orange County Courts, will be in a better position to get the best possible outcome for someone who is facing a DUI charge. Although DUI cases are prosecuted aggressively, there are ways to lessen the severity of the punishment that allows for people to go on living their normal lives and keep their jobs without interruption.
Continue reading →