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If you are arrested for DUI at a checkpoint, officers must follow certain criteria in that circumstance as well. In California, checkpoints must be administered with several criteria in mind. In Ingersoll v. Palmer, the California Supreme Court set forth a total of eight factors that must be balanced in determining the reasonableness of the search conducted at the checkpoint including:
- Visible Indication of Checkpoint: The roadblock itself should be established with high visibility, including warning and flashing light with adequate lighting so that people are put on reasonable notice that they are entering a checkpoint.
- Limits on Officer Discretion: A neutral mathematical formula should be used so as to limit the discretion of officers in determining who is checked and who is not, such as every car, every third car or every tenth car and among other factors.
- Role of Supervisory Personal: Only supervisory law enforcement personnel and not officers in the field may make the decision to establish the checkpoint.
- Policy Goals: The location of the roadblocks should be determined by policy making officials rather than officers in the field so that only roads with a high incident of alcohol related accidents and arrests are monitored by the checkpoint, rather than strategically placing a surprise checkpoint in an otherwise relatively untraveled street.
- Time and Duration of Checkpoint: The time of the day and duration of time in which the checkpoint is operational should be reasonable. It should not be in the middle of the day and/or last for 6 hours, for example.
- Safety: The safety of motorists and officers should be considered. Therefore it should be done with proper lighting, warning signs and signals, and conducted at a time when the traffic volume allows operation to be conducted safely.
- Length and Duration of Stop: Each motorist should only be detained long enough for the officer to question the driver briefly and to look for signs of intoxication.
Challenging Roadside Stops and Checkpoints
In addition to challenging the accuracies of the FSTs, chemical tests, and witness testimony alleging impairment in your driving due to intoxication, there are a number of strategies that may be implemented in challenging the reasonableness of the stop in the first place. In order for an officer to pull you over they must have probable cause to do so in the first place, meaning you must have been disobeying some rule of the road. Unfortunately, at times officers have been known to fabricate reasons to pull an individual over, such as not signaling within a proper distance of a lane change, having illegally tinted windows, or making a turn too close to a curb.
Generally, seemingly trivial reasons such as these are used as a means to arrest individuals potentially committing a more serious offence such as driving under the influence. If your attorney can prove the reasons for the stop were not sufficient and in violation of your constitutionally protected rights, any and all evidence discovered as a result of the stop may be suppressed and your DUI may potentially be thrown out.
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Again the reasonableness of the checkpoint will be determined by balancing the eight factors. Therefore, technically, not all eight factors need to be met. However, this lengthy list of criteria does leave a substantial amount of room for your attorney to raise multiple valid arguments contesting the constitutionality of the checkpoint in most situations. A resourceful DUI attorney will subpoena all necessary records to ensure this test is met. If it is not, you stand an excellent chance of negating the reasonableness of the checkpoint stop and having the charges against you dismissed.
The Law Office of Marc S. Kohnen is dedicated to providing knowledgeable representation if you’re charged with a DUI in San Diego and a defense that will aggressively fight for you. If you were arrested after a stop or at a checkpoint, do not hesitate to contact the firm to discuss your case. A knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in San Diego can assess whether your rights were violated at any point, and help you create a detailed and compelling defense against the charges. To learn more about your options, call the firm today!