Every St. Patrick's Day, like most holidays, marks an increase in patrols and checkpoints to catch suspected drunk drivers. This year, the Orange County Sheriff's Department kicked off St. Patrick's Day weekend with a DUI checkpoint in Mission Viejo. Checkpoints were also set up in San Clemente, Tustin and Orange over the weekend.
While patrols were increased and checkpoints implemented over the weekend, this DUI crackdown is expected to last through Monday night and into the early hours of Tuesday morning, when St. Patrick's Day festivities officially end.
DUI task forces and checkpoints are meant to deter drunk drivers and to prevent serious auto accidents. Holidays such as this, however, can bring about other issues related to the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints and other issues related to invalid or improper arrests and charges. Sobriety checkpoints are a particularly "grey area" when it comes to DUI charges. It is important for drivers' rights to be protected, against unlawful stops or unwarranted arrests and charges.
At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, we represent drivers throughout Orange County who have been pulled over, arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI). We understand the need for attention on drunk driving prevention but also recognize that drivers have rights and should be protected to the fullest extent of the law.
DUI Checkpoints in California
In California, DUI checkpoints must conform with strict guidelines. Normally, law enforcement must have probable cause to pull over a motorist. They must have observed a traffic violation, a defect in the vehicle, or pattern that may indicate drunk driving. With DUI checkpoints, drivers are stopped without probable cause. Courts have upheld the constitutionality of these checkpoints only if they comply with a specific set of guidelines.
For example, DUI checkpoints must be reasonably located, the criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral, drivers should be detained for a minimal amount of time, and they should be publicly advertised in advance. There are other criteria as well. These guidelines serve to protect motorists from improper or illegal traffic stops that would violate their rights.
In representing drivers who have been stopped at DUI roadblocks or simply because they were driving late at night/early in the morning on a holiday like St. Patrick's Day, our Orange County DUI lawyers look to any and all applicable laws, guidelines or regulations that may have been violated. A violation could open a DUI checkpoint to legal challenge.
To discuss St. Patrick's Day DUI charges or any issue related to a drunk driving arrest, please call our offices. We offer a confidential case review to talk about your case and steps that can be taken at this time to protect your rights and freedom.