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San Diego Police Department Class to Show DUI Checkpoint

| Aug 6, 2015 | Firm News |

I actually like the program. So often people feel they are less impaired than they really are. People do not realize they are impaired until they are driving. Some pull over (sometimes too late). Other times people feel they are on the way home and can soldier through. The program will provide context for the young people on how sublte the clues the police see to make the arrest. When I was a prosecutor and went to my first checkpoints I was expecting falling down drunks. I was watching someone who I thought was doing well get arrested. The police note little actions that they conclude is due to impairment. Forget it could be bad balance, sleepiness, being scared to death, etc. DUI checkpoints are a main subject of conversation in in DUI defense. It is good to see the police trying to be proative with teens 

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A new program will let San Diego-area teenagers see firsthand what happens when a resident is arrested for driving under the influence.

The San Diego Police Department’s Traffic Division has launched the Teen Alcohol Awareness Program (T.A.A.P.) in an effort to reach out to teen drivers before they start driving and show them the potential consequences of driving impaired.

The class will start at the Traffic Division on Aero Drive at 9 p.m., where parents and their teens will gather for approximately an hour and a half of classroom time. After, the parents will be asked to leave.

The teenagers will be taken to a working DUI checkpoint and will watch all elements of the checkpoint, from first contact to driver’s evaluation to arrest.

After that, teens will head back to the station for a short debriefing. Parents will pick up their kids at 1:30 a.m.

The first class will take place on Aug. 25 and subsequent classes will be announced through local community-based organizations. Availability is on a first-come, first-serve basis and classroom size is limited.

San Diego DUI Checkpoint law:

In the landmark case Ingersoll v. Palmer, the California Supreme Court carved out an exemption to the “search and seizure” rule that would pave the way for twenty-five years of DUI checkpoints.

We felt it would be appropriate, at the quarter-century mark, to review the case and remind the public of the holdings.

DUI checkpoints were a new thing back in mid-1980s California. In fact, Ingersoll was filed just three days after California’s first DUI checkpoint. State officials studied existing cases and statutes and devised what was supposed to be a constitutional plan. Much of that plan was incorporated into the Ingersoll opinion, which likens DUI checkpoints to agricultural checkpoints and airport screenings to avoid the Fourth Amendment.

The following factors help determine the constitutionality of a checkpoint:

  • 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.

These guidelines are not created equal. Some, like the random selection of cars, are more important than others, like advance publicity. As for the applicability to a specific checkpoint, we’d recommend discussing the matter with a local attorney.

The full article can be found here.

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