Residents of San Diego often encounter various DUI checkpoints located in Pacific Beach, Imperial Beach, Coronado, El Cajon, South Bay, Poway, or Vista. These temporary checkpoints are usually put in place by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department on Friday and Saturday nights between 8 P.M. and 2 A.M. to remove impaired or unsafe drivers from the city’s roadways. These checkpoints are staffed by approximately 15-20 DUI trained deputies who check thousands of vehicles in their pursuit for drunk drivers. During such inspections, individuals are arrested for all kinds of violations, including DUI, driving on a suspended driver’s license, possession of marijuana and other illegal drugs, or driving without proof of current vehicle registration or insurance coverage.
The operation of sobriety checkpoints, also known as sobriety roadblocks or driver safety checkpoints, must comply with the constitutional principles against unreasonable searches and seizures articulated by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. To be constitutional, the location of the checkpoint must have a high incidence rate of alcohol-related accidents or arrests, an average length and nature of such detention has to be at a minimum, and drivers must be stopped according to a neutral formula, such as every third, fifth or tenth driver. Advanced publicity related to the operation of a sobriety checkpoint is recommended but not constitutionally required.
When a trial court finds that a local law enforcement agency that conducted a particular stop at a checkpoint failed to comply with constitutional principles against unreasonable searches, evidence seized during an illegal stop may be suppressed. Such evidence usually includes an individual’s blood alcohol level, drugs or firearm found in a car, or other information collected as a result of the stop. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows how to determine whether the San Diego Sheriff’s Department or other local law enforcement agency is in full compliance with the constitutional requirements imposed on such agencies when it stops vehicles at sobriety checkpoints.
The San Diego Law Office of Domenic J. Lombardo is dedicated to defending criminal charges in State, Federal, and County courts throughout San Diego. For a free consultation, contact us at (619) 232-5122, or: [email protected].
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