Orange County DUI Checkpoints: Cinco de Mayo edition
Our Orange County DUI lawyers have learned from law enforcement about tonight’s DUI enforcement activities. The cities of Garden Grove, Tustin, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach all have police officers assigned to heavy saturation patrols, from 6pm tonight to 3am tomorrow morning.
DUI Saturation Patrols involve having officers specially trained in DUI testing and detection patrol their respective cities, specifically looking for those persons that may be driving under the influence. Statistics show that, when measured by DUI arrests, that DUI saturation patrols are much, much more effective than DUI checkpoints, which generally have a very low arrest rate. For various political reasons, DUI checkpoints are heavily funded, and saturation patrols are not, which is why there are many more DUI checkpoints than patrols.
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.