As the summer approaches, students head home from college and that California fun in the sun state of mind sets in, Orange County law enforcement agencies are gearing up for one of the busiest DUI seasons.
In an effort to crackdown on impaired drivers, the Santa Ana Police Department will begin their summer campaign. This actually doesn’t really end until after Labor Day. Saturation Patrols and DUI Checkpoints will be utilized to apprehend drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
DUI Roving Saturation Patrols and DUI Checkpoints are now regularly used tools in the Sheriff’s Department’s efforts to crack down on drunk drivers. However, law enforcement officials believe that roving patrols are more effective than DUI checkpoints. The deputies working the roving patrols are trained specifically to identify impaired or intoxicated drivers and look specifically for signs of impairment. The California Office of Traffic Safety funds these roving patrols.
DUI Checkpoints, also known as, Sobriety Checkpoints, are roadblocks, set up temporarily on public streets, to catch drunk drivers and to cite others for Vehicle Code violations. The police departments conducting these checkpoints must adhere to strict guidelines, which have been established by the Courts. Anyone who is arrested for DUI, at a sobriety checkpoint, should contact an experienced DUI attorney to determine whether the checkpoint was conducted according to the guidelines. If the police department conducting the checkpoint did not follow the guidelines properly, the checkpoint is determined to be unlawful and any evidence obtained during the arrest may not be admissible in Court.
What Are The Guidelines For Conducting a DUI Checkpoint?
1) The establishment and location of the checkpoints must be decided by supervisory police officers, not officers in the field;
2) Police must use a neutral mathematical formula, such as every driver or every third, fifth, or tenth driver to determine who to stop;
3) Proper lighting, warning signs and signals, and clearly identifiable official vehicles are required;
4) The location chosen must be most effective in actually stopping drunk drivers, such as roads which have a high incidence of alcohol-related accidents and arrests;
5) The time and duration of sobriety checkpoints are also important;
6) High visibility is required so that the drivers can easily see the nature of the roadblock as they are approaching;
7) Each motorist stopped should be detained only long enough for the officer to question the driver briefly and to look for signs of intoxication; and
8) Sobriety checkpoints must be announced to the public in advance.
Most people don’t know that you may avoid a checkpoint, if you come upon one. You may choose to turn and go around the checkpoint rather than going through it. The Supreme Court has ruled that motorists who want to avoid a roadblock may do so and not be subjected to being detained merely because they attempted to avoid the roadblock. The motorist must have committed a vehicle code violation or displayed obvious signs of intoxication for there to be probable cause to pull the motorist over.
Anyone who is arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Orange County should contact an experienced DUI Criminal Defense Attorney to determine whether or not their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, were violated.
If you would like to know more about DUI/Sobriety Checkpoints, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.