The Press Democrat recently reported that Santa Rosa police officers will construct a DUI checkpoint on the east side of Santa Rosa. The checkpoint will run from 7:00 p.m. Friday to 1:00 a.m. Saturday and could actually include two separate locations.

     Police conducting sobriety checkpoints are required to follow strict rules established by the California Supreme Court in Ingersoll v. Palmer. If police do not follow the requirements, evidence gathered from stopping someone at a DUI checkpoint can be thrown out of court. The Supreme Court identified eight factors that minimize the imposition or intrusiveness on the driver while balancing the need to keep California roads safe for all drivers.

     These requirements include (1) Requiring that supervisory police officers establish the location of sobriety checkpoints to reduce random enforcement, (2) Placing a limit on the discretion of police officers to stop drivers at the checkpoint by requiring police to use a neutral mathematical formula such as every fourth driver, every sixth driver, etc., this prevents arbitrary or random enforcement, (3) Requiring the primary consideration of maintaining safety for all motorists and officers, including proper lighting, warning signs, using identifiable official vehicles, etc., (4) Using checkpoint locations that focus on areas that have a high amount of alcohol related accidents or DUI arrests, (5) Restricting the actual timing and duration of the checkpoint, (6) The establishment of checkpoints with high visibility including flashing warnings, adequate lighting, police vehicles, presence of officers in uniform, etc., (7) Assurances that the police only detain a motorist for a brief questioning to look for signs of intoxication such as slurred speech, glassy or bloodshot eyes or impaired motor coordination. (Only if an officer determines that they perceive signs of impairment from a motorist can they then further detain the motorist by having the motorist drive to an adjoining area for further investigation.), and (8) Providing advance notice of the road block, although identification of the specific location is not required.

     A motorist may try to avoid a checkpoint and may not be stopped by the police unless, in so doing, the motorist commits a vehicle code violation or displays driving consistent with a driver under the influence.

     Notice – The foregoing information is provided by Ronald Dinan & Associates for the following entities: Clients and Lawyers in Eureka, Lake County, Ukiah, Napa, Santa Rosa and Marin.

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