Shoplifting and Civil Demand Letters

Shoplifting and Civil Demand Letters

Shoplifting and Civil Demand Letters

Shoplifting and Civil Demand Letters: As an Orange County Shoplifting Attorney, my clients who have faced a shoplifting (Penal Code section 484), or the related petty theft (Penal Code section 466), or burglary charge (Penal Code section 459), often feel ashamed.  They will typically get cited and released, with a future court date, and wonder what to do, or how best to prepare for their court date.

While waiting for their court date, they often get a surprise in the mail – a letter from a law firm representing the store, asking, as a civil demand, for their “losses” to be paid separately from the court case.

As a result, a frequent question asked by clients facing a petty theft, burglary, or shoplifting charge is whether they should pay the demand by the store for “costs”  or “losses”  following an arrest.

The letter received is usually phrased as a “civil demand” letter from a law firm, or in some cases, a division of the store itself, that does nothing but send out these form letters in a mass mailing after shoplifting incidents, trying to extort— I mean “obtain voluntarily”—  hundreds of dollars from the accused.

What is the law regarding Shoplifting and Civil Demand Letters?

California Penal Code section 450 does have a provision that allows a merchant to make a demand of up to $500 from an individual accused of shoplifting in their store to recover actual “damages” directly incurred.

The hope is that the recipient will either think it will prevent criminal charges from being filed or that it will mean that criminal charges will be dropped.  But neither of those is true.  A payment of money to the law firm on behalf of the store has nothing to do with the criminal case, and the prosecutor (the DA in most cases) will never even be notified if a payment is made or not.

Having spoken to many, many other Orange County criminal defense attorneys, in email discussion groups, in court, and in conversation, not one, out of thousands, has ever heard of a store going after anyone in small claims court for not paying one of these letters.  The law firms that send these letters almost never do anything if you don’t pay.  One of the biggest firms admitted that they send out 1.2 million or more letters per year (like I said volume volume volume!), but have filed lawsuits, at most, on less than 10 people per year.

I used to send a response to the law firms asking for them to itemize the damages to the store, as the law states.  They just send me, instead of the client, a second or third letter and then drop it.  In most cases, the items stolen are recovered and put back on the shelf.  Damages are zero.  In some case where an employee has to work overtime just to prepare that one shoplifting report or a store employee is injured, there might be more damages, but this is very very rare.  The stores are entitled to little more than their actual damages, which are usually nothing.

I do note that in years of practice as an Orange County shoplifting attorney, handling commercial burglary defenses, and petty theft cases, that most shoplifting and civil demand letters cases involve only a handful of stores – Nordstrom’s, Costco, Walmart, Fry’s, and Target.  They seem to be particularly offensive.  Nordstrom’s, for a while, actually sent a letter to thousands of people stating that there would be a civil or criminal prosecution if the extortion – I mean demand for money was not paid.  That is clearly illegal under the Federal Debt Collection Act, and might even be extortion on their part. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission apparently made this practice stop.

The bottom line is – don’t pay the letter.  Deal with the criminal shoplifting, burglary, or petty theft cases in court, heed the advice of your Orange County criminal defense lawyer, and ignore the letters you may receive.

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Orange County DUI Checkpoints 04-25-2015

Long Beach Police Department (California)
Long Beach Police Department (California) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our Orange County DUI Lawyers have learned that there are two checkpoints scheduled for tomorrow, April 25, 2015.

The first aims to look to increase Santa Ana DUI arrests. The Santa Ana Police Department has scheduled a DUI Checkpoint from 9pm to 3am at Warner Avenue, between Flower St. and Main St..

The Long Beach Police Department also has a DUI checkpoint in Long Beach, which is running in an undisclosed location, likely in Northern Long Beach, from 9pm to 3am also.

At both of When possible, specially-trained officers will be available to evaluate those suspected of drug-impaired driving (DUID), which now accounts for a growing number of impaired driving crashes.

WHAT IS A SATURATION PATROL?

A Saturation Patrol is special enforcement where trained officers, with DUI testing equipment, drive around high potential areas for DUI arrests in Orange County, looking for traffic violations that might indicate someone is drunk driving.

WHY DOES LAW ENFORCEMENT HAVE ORANGE COUNTY DUI CHECKPOINTS?

DUI Checkpoints are even admitted by law enforcement to be less effective than other means of removing drunk drivers from the road. But, even though DUI checkpoints don’t work, police state they had a deterrent effect preventing people from driving in the first place.  The truth is that funding in grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)MADD, and the Federal Government through NHTSA ensure DUI checkpoints are used first before other measures.

ARE DUI CHECKPOINTS LEGAL?

The US Supreme Court, as well as the law in California, including the Ingersoll v. Rand decision, makes DUI checkpoints legal, as long as they follow certain criteria, including:

  • Decision making by supervisors: This is important to ensure that checkpoints aren’t set up in “arbitrary and capricious” locations. The court didn’t say so, but we’re guessing they wanted to avoid any accusations of racial profiling.
  • Limits on discretion of field officers: The theme of distrust of the officer continues. Strict procedures and a random selection of drivers according to a preset pattern (every third driver, for example) are suggested to avoid abuse.
  • Maintenance of safety conditions: We’re not sure how it applies to constitutionality, but the court wanted lots of bright lights and signs.
  • Reasonable location: The location should be based on relevant factors, such as areas with high incidences of DUI or DUI accidents.
  • Time and duration: The timing should be set to optimize the effectiveness of the checkpoint.
  • Indications that the checkpoint is official: It should be clear to drivers, for notice purposes, that this is a law enforcement stop, and not just construction or something sinister. Lights and signage should be visible for the sake of notification to the drivers. Drivers also can’t be pulled over for avoiding the checkpoint, unless they violate a law to do so.
  • Length and nature of detention: The time of the stop should be minimized as to infringe on a person’s rights as little as possible. That means peek at the eyes, smell for booze, and look for cans. If there are no signs of intoxication, the driver should be let go. If they look or smell drunk, field sobriety tests are appropriate.
  • Advance publicityIngersoll was in favor of advance publicity. It referred to the deterrent effect and stated that the notice minimizes intrusiveness to a person’s rights. In 1993, the court in People v. Banks stated that publicity was not a requirement, but it certainly helps.

Those are the Orange County DUI Checkpoints 04-25-2015 scheduled for this weekend.  Be careful out there.  Please contact our Orange County DUI Defense Attorneys if you have a question or need our help.

CONTACT US

Contact our firm if you have any questions about Orange County DUI Checkpoints.

Don’t delay contacting us if you were arrested for a DUI.  We can start you on a plan of action today that will help your court date later. The DMV needs action within 10 days of your arrest.  Contact us today.

 

Placentia DUI Checkpoint ends in a high speed crash

Placentia DUI Checkpoint ends in disaster.

DUI with Accident

A Placentia DUI Checkpoint resulted in tragedy. The City of Placentia’s Police Department had a DUI checkpoint on Friday April 17th, that ended up in disaster.  Going, according to some reports, over 100 miles per hour through the checkpoint, a 44 year old woman fled from the DUI checkpoint and led officers on a chase that ended when she flipped her car over construction equipment.

The checkpoint was in the 300 block of East Orangethorpe Avenue in Placentia. The driver ran a stoplight at Kramer Boulevard, and continued to speed up, until she collided with temporary railings blocking off Orangethorpe Avenue at Thames Street in Anaheim for construction underway there. The vehicle launched over a bulldozer that was parked along the curb and landed on its roof, pinned between a block wall and the bulldozer.

That increased her DUI charges to a DUI with an accident, and an allegation or enhancement of DUI while speeding.

Orange County Fire Authority and Anaheim Fire had to pull the driver from the vehicle. She was transported to UC Irvine Medical Center and the woman is in critical condition, with a DUI and a crash investigation still pending.

The data over several years of Orange County DUI Checkpoints seem to indicate that DUI checkpoints are a bad idea, and are not effective.

In evaluating whether or not a DUI checkpoint is legal, DUI caselaw requires that procedures be followed, and public safety is generally a concern.  Courts generally require that there be procedures utilized that don’t leave discretion to the officer at the checkpoint. See Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. at 662, 99 S.Ct. 1391. The Louisiana Supreme Court decision in State v. Jackson 764 So.2d 64, 72-73, (La., 2000) illustrates the considerations that courts generally employ to determine the validity of sobriety checkpoints.  Those are as follows:

  1. The location, time and duration of a checkpoint, and other regulations for operation of the checkpoint should be established (preferably in written form) by supervisors or other administrative personnel rather than the field officers implementing the checkpoint;
  2. Advance warning to the approaching motorist with signs, flares and other indications to warn of the impending stop in a safe manner and to provide notice of its official nature as a police checkpoint;
  3. Detention of the motorist for a minimal length of time; and
  4. Use of systematic non-random criteria for stopping motorists.

Under the California DUI case law of the Ingersoll case here in California, it’s required that police give notice of a checkpoint.  In fact, you’ve probably seen headlines in your local paper or have read a tweet from the police department warning residents of an upcoming sobriety checkpoint, disclosing precisely when and where the screening will take place. DUI Specific Apps exist for that purpose.  Press releases from Police Agencies exist to let people know about it.  Those that plan ahead and are the most dangerous serial drunk drivers, or alcoholics, are the least likely to be caught in a DUI checkpoint for that reason.

DUI Checkpoints are not favored by police

Raising Orange County DUI Awareness

Some officers also feel that sobriety checkpoint duty result in few arrests and aren’t very productive.  See: http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=637&issue_id=72005

Law enforcement press releases constantly state that the main goal of DUI checkpoints is just awareness, not public safety or arrests.  Awareness can be accomplished by  other means, and MADD in particular does a good job of awareness.  Not many people do not know that driving under the influence is illegal.  There have been many high-profile DUI awareness campaigns over the years sponsored by government media action. Everyone is familiar with the phrase “don’t drink and drive.” These less expensive, less constitutionally-intrusive public awareness campaigns make more sense than DUI checkpoints — if awareness is the goal.

Contact us.

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If you have questions for an Orange County DUI Lawyercontact us today.

Texting is more Dangerous than DUI.

Texting is more Dangerous than DUI.  But the punishment is way different.

Texting is more dangerous than DUITexting is more dangerous than DUI.  More teens die annually from texting while driving than for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. And more accidents occur from texting than DUI, making texting more dangerous than DUI.

Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cohen Children’s Medical Center the chief author of the study, found that laws against texting while driving are not effective. Fifty-seven percent of boys said they text while driving in states with texting laws, and 59 percent  said they text while driving in states that don’t have texting laws, according to the study.

So, while texting and driving has now surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of death among teens, you would expect the punishment to be higher than for DUI, right?

Not here in California.  It is fairly well publicized that a first DUI can cost 16,000, and even more for those under 21, or for those with priors or accidents. But texting, no matter what the consequences, carries a fairly low $300 standard fine here in California.

In Central California, A 20-year-old woman who was texting while driving caused major and fatal injuries to a group of teens was sentenced this past Wednesday.

Mia Sara Aguiar received five years’ probation, a 30-day jail term that may be served through a work program and 400 hours of community service after pleading no contest in a plea deal to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with an enhancement of causing injury to multiple victims.

Aguiar was driving westbound on Highway 120 at speeds reaching 65 mph in a 45 mph zone near Comconext Road on April 16, when she drifted onto the shoulder while either texting or reaching for her cell phone after 1 a.m.

She struck four teenagers walking along the shoulder after they left the same party Aguiar had attended. Zachariah Gomez, 14, died and the three others were severely injured.

DUI Attorney Lawrence Taylor has said that this inherent bias, which he calls the “DUI exception to the constitution”, is a remnant from prohibition.  Texting is seen as “less bad” because it doesn’t have the stigma of alcohol consumption.  As an Orange County DUI Lawyer, I can only agree.

Orange County DUI Checkpoints: Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente

Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente DUI Checkpoints announced.  Our Orange County DUI Lawyers have learned that there are DUI checkpoints tonight, April 10th, 2015, planned in the following cities:

Seal Beach:

The Seal Beach Police Department Traffic Unit, part of the Orange County Avoid DUI Task Force, will be conducting a DUI/Driver’s License Checkpoint on Friday, April 10, 2015, at the intersection of PCH and 1st Street between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Santa Ana:

Santa Ana DUI checkpoint: The Santa Ana Police Department have a DUI checkpoint planned, in the 2100 block of Main Street, between 17th Street and the 5 Freeway, planned for between 9pm and 3am.

Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente:

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has saturation patrols (officers trained to look for those driving under the influence) patrolling the cities of Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, and San Clemente tonight, all evening.

In case you are wondering about the difference between DUI saturation patrols in Orange County, and DUI Checkpoints in Orange County, we have a detailed article on the subject.  The fact is that DUI Checkpoints Don’t Work, and are not effective, but are motivated by money.

Check out the article on our website about that at the following link: Why DUI Checkpoints Don’t Work

DUI checkpoints are highly visible by design and often publicized in advance—and thus extremely easy to avoid.

In evaluating whether or not a DUI checkpoint is legal, courts generally require that there be procedures utilized that don’t leave discretion to the officer at the checkpoint. See Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. at 662, 99 S.Ct. 1391. The Louisiana Supreme Court decision in State v. Jackson764 So.2d 64, 72-73, (La., 2000) illustrates the considerations that courts generally employ to determine the validity of sobriety checkpoints.  Those are as follows:

  1. The location, time and duration of a checkpoint, and other regulations for operation of the checkpoint should be established (preferably in written form) by supervisors or other administrative personnel rather than the field officers implementing the checkpoint;
  2. Advance warning to the approaching motorist with signs, flares and other indications to warn of the impending stop in a safe manner and to provide notice of its official nature as a police checkpoint;
  3. Detention of the motorist for a minimal length of time; and
  4. Use of systematic non-random criteria for stopping motorists.

Under the Ingersoll case here in California, it’s required that police give notice of a checkpoint.  In fact, you’ve probably seen headlines in your local paper or read a tweet from the police department warning residents of an upcoming sobriety checkpoint, disclosing precisely when and where the screening will take place. DUI Specific Apps exist for that purpose.  Press releases from Police Agencies exist to let people know about it.  Those that plan ahead and are the most dangerous serial drunk drivers, or alcoholics, are the least likely to be caught in a DUI checkpoint for that reason.

EVEN POLICE OFFICERS SAY THAT DUI CHECKPOINTS ARE NOT EFFECTIVE, AND A WASTE OF THEIR TIME.

Raising Orange County DUI Awareness

Some officers also feel that sobriety checkpoint duty result in few arrests and aren’t very productive.  See: http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=637&issue_id=72005

Law enforcement press releases constantly state that the main goal of DUI checkpoints is just awareness, not public safety or arrests.  Awareness can be accomplished by  other means, and MADD in particular does a good job of awareness.  Not many people do not know that driving under the influence is illegal.  There have been many high-profile DUI awareness campaigns over the years sponsored by government media action. Everyone is familiar with the phrase “don’t drink and drive.” These less expensive, less constitutionally-intrusive public awareness campaigns make more sense than DUI checkpoints — if awareness is the goal.

Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, even admits as much.  “The goal is not to write tickets or make arrests but rather to remind the public that they should drive sober or face serious consequences.”

But Riverside County, where Riverside DUI cases and Murrieta DUI cases have a high rate of arrest, disagrees.  Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff, whose deputies made 491 DUI arrests at 83 checkpoints in 16 cities last year, says: “patrols are still the most effective. We make light-years more arrests on random patrols than at checkpoints.

What to do if you are in an Orange County DUI Checkpoint

So what should you do if you face an OC DUI Checkpoint?  When approaching a DUI Checkpoint the best thing to do is remain calm, follow the officers instructions as well as the flow of traffic. Asking for proof of ID and registration is not in violation of your civil rights and the practice of traffic stops has been upheld by the Supreme Court to help protect the safety and well being of all drivers on the road.

You can also politely refuse all field sobriety tests, refuse to answer any questions about drinking, and politely refuse the field breathalyzer, but would have to take a blood or breath test for evidential purposes, or lose your license for one year.

No one wants drunk drivers on the road. But no one wants people texting while driving, or people eating lunch on the road, or people with children in the car either, which statistically are even more dangerous, and result in way more deaths.  Making a system that is fair to all and puts officers where they can do the most good, is good policy.

Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente DUI Checkpoints announced

If you have questions about Orange County DUI Checkpoints, contact our firm at (877) 989-7789.  We are here to help in any way with an Orange County DUI case.

Orange County DUI Checkpoint Report: Huntington Beach, March, 2015

Orange County DUI Checkpoint Report: Huntington Beach, March, 2015

DUI Checkpoints OC

Orange County DUI Checkpoint Report: Huntington Beach, March, 2015: Our Orange County DUI Lawyer Robert Miller has learned that the Huntington Beach Police arrested six people and cited 22 additional drivers during Friday’s DUI/Drivers license checkpoint on Pacific Coast Highway.

Police said more than 2,400 vehicles passed through the Huntington Beach DUI checkpoint between 7:45 p.m. and 2:15 a.m., and of the 2,400 vehicles, 942 vehicles were screened.

Five people were arrested on suspicion of either driving under the influence of alcohol, drug, and/ or medical prescriptions.

That is an arrest rate of 0.02, proving, once again, the ineffective nature of DUI checkpoints on removing drunk drivers off the street.

Why does law enforcement have Orange County DUI Checkpoints?

DUI Checkpoints are even admitted by law enforcement to be less effective than other means of removing drunk drivers from the road. But, even though DUI checkpoints don’t work, police state they had a deterrent effect preventing people from driving in the first place.  The truth is that funding in grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), MADD, and the Federal Government ensure DUI checkpoints are used first before other measures.

Are DUI Checkpoints legal?

The US Supreme Court, as well as the law in California, makes DUI checkpoints legal, as long as they follow certain criteria, including:

  • Decision making by supervisors: This is important to ensure that checkpoints aren’t set up in “arbitrary and capricious” locations. The court didn’t say so, but we’re guessing they wanted to avoid any accusations of racial profiling.
  • Limits on discretion of field officers: The theme of distrust of the officer continues. Strict procedures and a random selection of drivers according to a preset pattern (every third driver, for example) are suggested to avoid abuse.
  • Maintenance of safety conditions: We’re not sure how it applies to constitutionality, but the court wanted lots of bright lights and signs.
  • Reasonable location: The location should be based on relevant factors, such as areas with high incidences of DUI or DUI accidents.
  • Time and duration: There are no hard and fast rules, but the timing should be set to optimize the effectiveness of the checkpoint. In other words, put ’em up when the drunks are out.
  • Indicia of official nature of roadblock: This is more babble about bright lights and warning signs. They do mention that the lights and signage should be visible for the sake of notification to the drivers. Drivers also can’t be pulled over for avoiding the checkpoint, unless they violate a law to do so.
  • Length and nature of detention: The time of the stop should be minimized as to infringe on a person’s rights as little as possible. That means peek at the eyes, smell for booze, and look for cans. If there are no signs of intoxication, the driver should be let go. If they look or smell drunk, field sobriety tests are appropriate.
  • Advance publicity: Ingersoll was in favor of advance publicity. It referred to the deterrent effect and stated that the notice minimizes intrusiveness to a person’s rights. In 1993, the court in People v. Banks stated that publicity was not a requirement, but it certainly helps.

Contact us

Contact our firm if you have any questions about Orange County DUI Checkpoints.

Don’t delay contacting us if you were arrested for a DUI.  We can start you on a plan of action today that will help your court date later. The DMV needs action within 10 days of your arrest.  Contact us today.

Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point yields no arrests

Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point yields no arrests

Orange County DUI Checkpoints

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced today that the Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point yielded no arrests during the checkpoint held on April 3 and April 4, 2015).  That Orange County DUI Checkpoint stopped and screened 623 drivers.

Having no arrests is consistent with prior statistics for Orange County DUI Checkpoints, which often lead to a zero arrest rate.  That is for various reasons, including the fact that the DUI checkpoint typically has to be announced ahead of of time, and that a DUI checkpoint is a particularly inefficient method of finding and arresting those under the influence.  Looks like this Easter DUI checkpoint resulted in a big goose egg for law enforcement.

Why does law enforcement have Orange County DUI Checkpoints?

DUI Checkpoints are even admitted by law enforcement to be less effective than other means of removing drunk drivers from the road. But, even though DUI checkpoints don’t work, police state they had a deterrent effect preventing people from driving in the first place.  The truth is that funding in grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), MADD, and the Federal Government ensure DUI checkpoints are used first before other measures.

Are DUI Checkpoints legal?

The US Supreme Court, as well as DUI laws in California, makes DUI checkpoints legal, as long as they follow certain criteria, including:

  • Decision making by supervisors: This is important to ensure that checkpoints aren’t set up in “arbitrary and capricious” locations. The court didn’t say so, but we’re guessing they wanted to avoid any accusations of racial profiling.
  • Limits on discretion of field officers: The theme of distrust of the officer continues. Strict procedures and a random selection of drivers according to a preset pattern (every third driver, for example) are suggested to avoid abuse.
  • Maintenance of safety conditions: We’re not sure how it applies to constitutionality, but the court wanted lots of bright lights and signs.
  • Reasonable location: The location should be based on relevant factors, such as areas with high incidences of DUI or DUI accidents.
  • Time and duration: There are no hard and fast rules, but the timing should be set to optimize the effectiveness of the checkpoint. In other words, put ’em up when the drunks are out.
  • Indications of the official nature of roadblock: This is more babble about bright lights and warning signs. They do mention that the lights and signage should be visible for the sake of notification to the drivers. Drivers also can’t be pulled over for avoiding the checkpoint, unless they violate a law to do so.
  • Length and nature of detention: The time of the stop should be minimized as to infringe on a person’s rights as little as possible. That means peek at the eyes, smell for booze, and look for cans. If there are no signs of intoxication, the driver should be let go. If they look or smell drunk, field sobriety tests are appropriate.
  • Advance publicity: Ingersoll was in favor of advance publicity. It referred to the deterrent effect and stated that the notice minimizes intrusiveness to a person’s rights. In 1993, the court in People v. Banks stated that publicity was not a requirement, but it certainly helps.

Contact us

Contact our firm if you have any questions about Orange County DUI Checkpoints.

Don’t delay contacting us if you were arrested for a DUI.  We can start you on a plan of action today that will help your court date later. The DMV needs action within 10 days of your arrest.  Contact us today.

Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point on April 3, 2015

Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point on April 3, 2015

Officer DUI Checkpoint

Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point on April 3, 2015: Our Orange County DUI Lawyers have learned that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department DUI Taskforce will be conducting a Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point on April 3, 2015 in the City of Dana Point between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

DUI checkpoints are not an effective means to remove those driving impaired from the road, statistics prove, but are a money generating operation from funds from the Federal US Department of Transportation through NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the State of California Office of Traffic Safety, MADD funding, and overtime for police officers, and income from impound fees from those driving with violations other than DUI.

According to Orange County DUI Attorney Robert Miller, the arrest rate for most DUI checkpoints is 0% to 3%, compared with the arrest rate for saturation patrols (officers driving looking for those impaired), which can be as much as 10 times higher. However, police agencies say that as long as the funding remains as it is, the DUI checkpoints, which take officers off the road who can arrest those impaired or drunk, continues, as a “public awareness measure”. That matches what law enforcement stated for this Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point on April 3, 2015.

WHY DOES LAW ENFORCEMENT HAVE ORANGE COUNTY DUI CHECKPOINTS?

DUI Checkpoints, including the Orange County DUI Checkpoint in Dana Point on April 3, 2015, are even admitted by law enforcement to be less effective than other means of removing drunk drivers from the road. But, even though DUI checkpoints don’t work, police state they had a deterrent effect preventing people from driving in the first place.  The truth is that funding in grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), MADD, and the Federal Government ensure DUI checkpoints are used first before other, more effective measures.

ARE DUI CHECKPOINTS LEGAL?

The US Supreme Court, as well as the law in California, makes DUI checkpoints legal, as long as they follow certain criteria, including:

  • Decision making by supervisors: This is important to ensure that checkpoints aren’t set up in “arbitrary and capricious” locations. The court didn’t say so, but we’re guessing they wanted to avoid any accusations of racial profiling.
  • Limits on discretion of field officers: The theme of distrust of the officer continues. Strict procedures and a random selection of drivers according to a preset pattern (every third driver, for example) are suggested to avoid abuse.
  • Maintenance of safety conditions: We’re not sure how it applies to constitutionality, but the court wanted lots of bright lights and signs.
  • Reasonable location: The location should be based on relevant factors, such as areas with high incidences of DUI or DUI accidents.
  • Time and duration: There are no hard and fast rules, but the timing should be set to optimize the effectiveness of the checkpoint. In other words, put ’em up when the drunks are out.
  • Indicia of official nature of roadblock: This is more babble about bright lights and warning signs. They do mention that the lights and signage should be visible for the sake of notification to the drivers. Drivers also can’t be pulled over for avoiding the checkpoint, unless they violate a law to do so.
  • Length and nature of detention: The time of the stop should be minimized as to infringe on a person’s rights as little as possible. That means peek at the eyes, smell for booze, and look for cans. If there are no signs of intoxication, the driver should be let go. If they look or smell drunk, field sobriety tests are appropriate.
  • Advance publicity: Ingersoll was in favor of advance publicity. It referred to the deterrent effect and stated that the notice minimizes intrusiveness to a person’s rights. In 1993, the court in People v. Banks stated that publicity was not a requirement, but it certainly helps.

Contact us now if you have a DUI case.

Don’t delay contacting us.  We can start you on a plan of action today that will help your court date later. The DMV needs action within 10 days of your arrest.  Contact us today.