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DUI Checkpoints

The utilization of DUI or sobriety checkpoints has proliferated in the last few years due in large part to huge amounts of state grant money flowing into local city coffers from DUI fines and penalty assessments from convictions in Court. While the use of these types of law enforcement tools is generally regarded as comporting with Constitutional proscriptions, their use is not always legal. In the seminal case within the context of sobriety roadblocks, Ingersoll vs. Palmer, the United States Supreme Court handed down guidelines which must be complied with in any particular law enforcement initiated checkpoint. Among the factors are:

  • The degree of discretion left to the individual officer in the field
  • The specific location chosen for the roadblock
  • The time and duration of the roadblock
  • The standards set by superior officers
  • Was advance notice given to the general public
  • Was advance warning given to approaching motorists
  • Adherence to recognized safety conditions
  • The length of time each motorist is stopped and detained

When challenging a DUI checkpoint each of the above factors is considered by the criminal Court Judge hearing the motion. In the South Bay of Los Angeles County the police use sobriety stops very heavily. It is not uncommon on any given weekend to see local police setting up a drunk driver roadblock in cities such as Torrance, Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Carson, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach and El Segundo. As a local attorney who has defended thousands of DUI cases, Matthew Ruff can help evaluate whether your individual rights were violated.

One very common problem with DUI checkpoints in the South Bay is the stopping and detaining of drivers who simply turn off and avoid going thru a police initiated roadblock. Simply making a turn to avoid the checkpoint is not in itself illegal nor does it form the basis to stop and detain a motorist. If you or someone you know was stopped by the police under this type of scenario contact Mr. Ruff immediately, he can file the necessary legal motions to throw out the evidence collected following an illegal arrest. To allow the police to stop those persons that lawfully turn away onto a public street prior to entering a DWI checkpoint is clearly unduly invasive of the individual rights afforded to us by the U.S. and California Constitution.

Another common problem associated with DWI checkpoints is breath testing. The problem is that the tests are administered on a device that is carried in a trailer or mobile breath testing vehicle. In my experience these devices are routinely jolted, bounced, battered and generally abused given the their mobile environment. In many cases the device or machine was never approved to "go mobile" and challenges can sometimes be made on the reliability of the results on these grounds. Furthermore, deficiencies are often seen in the procedures utilized when administering the breath test, for example, Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations mandates that the individual being tested be continuously observed by the officer for a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the test, this is often overlooked in the DUI checkpoint context given the pandemonium that surrounds a sobriety checkpoint arrest.

One thing is true, the intrusion imposed upon the general public by the use of DUI checkpoints is very great and should be allowed, if at all, in very limited circumstances. If you or someone you love has had the unfortunate circumstance of being caught up in this type of illegal conduct by the police we urge you to call Los Angeles DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff for a free initial case evaluation and consultation at 310-527-4100. The attorney will meet with you one on one and discuss all legal options available. The office serves all cities in LA and Kern County including Torrance, Manhattan Beach, Gardena, Long Beach, Redondo, Palos Verdes, Hermosa Beach, among many others. Remember that the time to defend a DUI case is NOW, if you wait and procrastinate your rights may be lost and you may end up with a DUI on your record for the next decade.

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