Karen Devine Investigates Checkpoints

KESQ (ABC) has been promoting Karen Devine’s investigative report on checkpoints, airing on May 19, 2016, for some time.

Are they important for uncovering DUI’s drivers or is their main purpose to generate more money for California law enforcement? Are there more checkpoints than ever before? Why?

I recently attended a party where several groups were sharing information on the DUI checkpoints they encountered getting to the party. They felt there were more DUI saturation patrols and checkpoints than ever before and they were probably correct. As a resort we get an influx of tourists, "partiers" during certain times of the year. They come to party, thinking it is ok because they are away from home.

Increases in DUI Checkpoints and Saturation patrols is necessitated because we have more DUI fatalities in the CV than anywhere else in California…per capita. This occurs on special holiday weekends like New Years, Memorial Day and Labor Day as well as special events like Coachella and Stagecoach.

Checkpoints and Saturation Patrols, must meet the proper lawful and constitutional protocols to succeed. The idea behind a saturation patrol is that a large number of law enforcement officers will "make their presence known" by conducting stops, targeting inebriated, distracted, aggressive and speeding drivers, as well as those with seatbelt or cell phone violations….the whole nine yards of traffic violations.

A checkpoint doesn’t require probable cause to stop you… as is usually the case. Normally an officer must have a reason to pull you over which is called probable cause. At a sobriety checkpoint anybody can be stopped and requested to take a breath test. However, this does not mean that if you fail a breath test or a sobriety checkpoint test that all your rights have been compromised. Officers must follow procedures and guidelines for a valid DUI test.

Officers frequently over-charge and over-arrest people because of their incentivizations. These can include, but are not limited to – promotions, pay increases, vacation schedule priority, etc. based upon their sheer number of arrests and tickets issued. Constitutional rights are frequently violated in the process, even though the local courts and Supreme Court of the United States case law approves the concept.

The District Attorney filing deputy reviews the report and decides how to file the case. They too often "over file" or "over charge" to gain leverage for a future plea. Doing so makes it easier for the courtroom DA to extract a defendant’s plea… to something.

The impaired driver usually makes many mistakes. They are not aware, unless they read my weekly legal columns, that the field sobriety and breath test at the scene are optional. Thus you do not have to take the walk the line, finger to nose, alphabet and other sobriety tests. Likewise the breath test at the scene (unless you are on probation) is optional.

A driver offered DUI tests should be cooperative and politely say that their attorney is Fleeceum, Cheatum and Gougeum and they were advised not to talk without calling their lawyer for permission. That way you remain the Good Guy and the Lawyer is the Fall Guy.

The potential defendant should explain "they understand Field Sobriety and Breath Tests at the scene are optional. If that is correct Sir, then I elect not to take them. Then explain that they are happy to cooperate with law enforcement and take a blood test."


If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at 760-565-0533.


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