DUI Checkpoints

In California, DUI checkpoints must be adhere to certain criteria established in California Supreme Court case Ingersoll v. Palmer. The Ingersoll Court set forth eight factors that must be considered in determining the reasonableness of a search conducted at a DUI checkpoint. They are as follows:

  • Advance Notification: Providing reasonable advance notification to the public of the checkpoint so as to reduce the intrusiveness of the stop and to increase the deterrent effect of the roadblock.
  • 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 in order to limit the discretion of officers in determining who is checked and who is not, for example, the officers must maintain a consistent pattern of checking every car, every third car, or every tenth car.
  • 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 incidence 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. For example, it should not be in the middle of the day and/or last for 6 hours.
  • 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.

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 defense attorney will subpoena all necessary city records to ensure these criteria were met. If they were not, you stand an excellent chance of negating the reasonableness of the checkpoint stop and having the charges against you dismissed.

Aggressive Defense and Proven Results

A DUI, even with no priors and a relatively low BAC, can be a very traumatic experience. Most individuals who are arrested under this section have never been in trouble with the law. For the reasons stated above, it is crucial that you be proactive in obtaining the right attorney for your case. If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, please contact the Law Office of Peter Blair for a free and confidential consultation concerning your available options in this pressing matter.