Was the DUI Checkpoint Lawful?
It may seem sensible that a DUI roadblock can be set up as a “sting” to snare drunk drivers. But it turns out that a roadblock with that express purpose would be unconstitutional, according to an Orange County DUI lawyer.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a case called City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, limited the power of the police to conduct stops without suspicion. Roadblocks must be designed for special reasons only, not for a usual law enforcement effort, the high court ruled. An experienced Orange County DUI lawyer will know about this case, but the police may not, and careful questioning in court can make or break a case that hinges on the purpose of the checkpoint.
Questioning Police in Court
Consider this hypothetical testimony during a DUI suppression hearing: (Note that a higher level officer, not a patrol officer, is responsible for the intent of the checkpoint.)
DUI LAWYER: Sergeant, were you in charge of the DUI checkpoint?
DUI LAWYER: You were responsible for designing the operation?
SERGEANT: Yes, I have been in charge of this for many years in the department.
DUI LAWYER: As the decision-maker, did you set the time and place of the checkpoint operation?
OFFICER: Yes. We know exactly what to do.
DUI LAWYER: You set up the stop on Broad Street on Saturday and Sunday the 24th and 25th?
DUI LAWYER: What time was the operation conducted?
SERGEANT: From 10 p.m. till 3 a.m.
(Note that attorneys often ask easy questions for which they already know the answers in order to relax witnesses. This makes the testifiers more likely to offer up information.)
DUI LAWYER: I see that the department arrested four drivers that night for DUI?
SERGEANT: It was a very successful operation. Your client was just one of the people arrested.
DUI LAWYER: And that was the whole intent, right? To arrest those that violated drunk driving laws?
SERGEANT: Yes, that was our purpose and we succeeded.
It turns out that this simple exchange revealed more than the police should have, because they stepped over the line of what is a lawful motivation for setting up a roadblock.
DUI Lawyers Know the Precedents for Your Case
A good Orange County DUI lawyer will be aware of all the laws dictating what can and cannot happen during a traffic stop. If you have been arrested for a DUI, you can call Coffey & Coffey at (800) 706-7888 for a free consultation today.