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DUI Checkpoints: What is Fresno Really Paying For?

Posted by Terry A. Wapner | Jan 07, 2014 | 0 Comments

Well, another “successful” DUI checkpoint was administered last weekend. Fresno police were able to arrest a total of ten people on the suspicion of DUI. Meanwhile, more than 30 cars were impounded! In total, 33 vehicles were impounded because the driver was either arrested under suspicion of DUI or because the driver was found to be driving without a valid license.

A little bit of simple math will lead you to the realization that more than two-thirds of the vehicles were impounded because of license issues - not alcohol intoxication. At first glance, you might be inclined to think “hey, that's ok - two birds with one stone.” But, unfortunately this “stone” costs the city thousands of dollars.

DUI checkpoints are publicized as a means to curb drunk driving. However, questions tend to arise when the outcome leads to few DUI arrests but dozens of impounded vehicles. Generally, cities and states themselves don't ask many questions because these impounded vehicles lead to millions of dollars of profit. Clearly, this is an improper use of funding.

DUI checkpoints are consistently the subject of controversy. In fact, a total of 12 states deem them to be unlawful as a violation of the state's constitution and/or the U.S. Constitution. In most situations, these checkpoints are found to be illegal because they get rid of the probable cause requirement. This is to say that a driver can be stopped by law enforcement even though the driver has done nothing that would indicate he is under the influence of alcohol. The officer doesn't even need to witness a traffic violation before stopping the car.

For one reason or another, California allows police officers to completely ignore the idea of probable cause. Courts allow for checkpoints, but they are supposed to be strictly regulated. However, it is not possible for an officer of the court to chaperone every DUI checkpoint. Often times these checkpoints are not conducted properly and lead to unjustified arrests.

And what about the cost? An average DUI checkpoint will cost a California city between $8,000 and $10,000. Even if all DUI checkpoints were conducted fairly, I think the cost outweighs the benefit. It's unfortunate because states receive thousands, and sometimes millions, to conduct these checkpoints.

So, what can you do? Currently, California law allows for DUI checkpoints, so that means we are forced to deal with consequences. This includes watching the state shell out millions of dollars each year to administer the checkpoints, as well as having to possibly deal with an unfair arrest after being stopped.

As much as I'd like to tell you that a sure way to protect yourself from being arrested at a DUI checkpoint is to avoid alcohol, that is simply not true. Many people find themselves arrested even if they are sober or well below the legal .08% limit.

I am here to help if you have been unjustly arrested at a DUI checkpoint. The officer may have conducted a field sobriety test improperly or your breath sample may have been compromised, leading to an inaccurately high BAC. No matter the circumstances, give my office a call as soon as possible after your arrest. I will explain your rights and your options to ensure you receive the best defense possible!

About the Author

Terry A. Wapner

Terry A. Wapner confines his practice to the defense of persons accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and related crimes.


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