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DUI Checkpoints:  Legal or Unconstitutional Roadblocks?

DUI Attorney Richard Wagner defends clients arrested for drunk driving or DUI stopped at DUI checkpoints or DUI Saturation Patrols. DUI Checkpoints may be done by law enforcement officials from several local police departments who refer to themselves as a special DUI task force.

After your arrest, the prosecutor will file a complaint in the Superior Court of California. You will be charged with violations of California Vehicle Code Sections 23152 (a)(b)(c)(f) or (g), and possibly other vehicle code offenses.

Before you enter your plea, it is critical you immediately meet DUI Defense Attorney Richard Wagner. He will explain to you how DUI Checkpoint cases should be defended.

All DUI Checkpoint cases in Southern California should be evaluated with California Penal Code section 1538.5 in mind.  DUI Defense Checkpoint Lawyers give serious consideration to filing a motion to suppress all the evidence police obtained at DUI Checkpoints.

DUI Lawyer Richard Wagner files these motions in court to challenge the legality of the DUI checkpoint. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the basis for the challenge to the prosecutor to show that the DUI checkpoint conformed to the guidelines set forth by the California Supreme Court.

The California Supreme Court DUI Checkpoint Guidelines:

(1) Whether the decision to establish a sobriety checkpoint, the selection of the site, and the procedures for the operation of the checkpoint are made and established by supervisory law enforcement personnel;

(2) Whether motorists are stopped according to a neutral formula, such as every third, fifth or tenth driver;

(3) Whether adequate safety precautions are taken, such as proper lighting, warning signs, and signals, and whether clearly identifiable official vehicles and personnel are used;

(4) Whether the location of the checkpoint was determined by a policymaking official, and was reasonable, i.e., on a road having a high incidence of alcohol-related accidents or arrests;

(5) Whether the time the checkpoint was conducted and its duration reflect “good judgment” on the part of law enforcement officials;

(6) Whether the checkpoint exhibits sufficient indicia of its official nature (to reassure motorists of the authorized nature of the stop);

(7) Whether the average length and nature of the detention is minimized; and

(8) Whether the checkpoint is preceded by publicity.

As California Supreme Court Justice Broussard stated, “the Fourth Amendment is highly inexpedient to law enforcement … I see no basis for distinguishing a drunken driving roadblock from any other mass detention …”

Attorneys experienced with DUI checkpoints identify the crucial parts of your DUI defense regardless of your blood-alcohol level.

The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by governmental officials.

With the right DUI Defense Attorneys looking for the right evidence in your favor, your attorney can make the case that the DUI checkpoint was actually an unconstitutional roadblock and you were stopped illegally and subjected to a warrantless search and seizure.

In 1987, the California Supreme Court held that DUI checkpoints are lawful under the state and federal constitutions if they are conducted within certain limitations. For a sobriety checkpoint, not to be declared an unconstitutional roadblock, each must be regulated according to constitutional guidelines.

DUI Checkpoints Are Controversial

DUI checkpoints are extremely controversial because of the real danger to our liberty interests, including the right to be secure in our persons, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures as stated in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In 1990, the United States Supreme Court upheld the use of DUI checkpoints, stressing the individual states’ strong interest in eliminating the serious problem of drunk driving.

However, in 2000, the United States Supreme Court ruled that vehicle checkpoints for the purpose of interdicting unlawful drugs violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The primary purpose of a sobriety checkpoint must be to “prevent and deter conduct injurious to persons and property.”

The United States Supreme Court noted the United States Supreme Court has never approved a DUI Checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.  The fact that it may have a secondary purpose of keeping impaired motorists off the road does not make such a checkpoint Constitutional.

If you have been arrested at a DUI Checkpoint for DUI or driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or more, contact or call 714-721-4423 The Law Office of Richard Wagner, A Professional Corporation for a FREE CONSULTATION.