Since the Fourth Amendment requires the police to have reasonable suspicion when detaining someone, a DUI Checkpoint is necessarily a violation of that concept. But the United States Supreme Court decided, in Michigan Dept. of State Police vs. Sitz, that the government's interest in protecting citizens outweighed the violation of the driver's rights. The court decided that if law enforcement set up clear and neutral guidelines, checkpoints wouldn't violate the Constitution. Many civil rights groups continue to disagree and many states, though not California, have barred their use.
What does a police agency have to do to set up a DUI checkpoint in California? Well, each department crafts its own guidelines, but there are some basic principles.
- The roadblocks must be limited in time.
- The police must provide drivers with an opportunity to "escape", that means the driver can actually avoid the checkpoint if he or she wants to.
- The detention must be brief and limited to determining sobriety.
- The police must publish notice that a checkpoint is going to be established in a particular area.
- The area must be one that sees a higher rate of DUI arrests.
Are they effective? Arguments abound in either direction. According to the Center for Disease Control, they are.
Whether they are or not, if you have been charged in Southern California with DUI at a checkpoint, we will take ever step to ensure the stop was legally conducted and your rights to be free from the police state they have formed are dedended.
Call The Fox Legal Group for your free consultation.