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Not necessarily doom and gloom

Let me try and put you all at ease about something. A guy called me the the other day about his DUI case. He was very concerned because he thought “shit…they got me”. He was stopped at a so-called DUI checkpoint. I think the source of his nervousness was that since he was caught at the DUI checkpoint DRIVING (as you would expect) and blew relatively high (like a .12 or something) he thought the whole deal was over and that he hadn’t a prayer to win his DUI case because he didn’t see any defense. Not so I told him.The fact of the matter is that even though you might THINK you can’t beat a DUI when they stop you at a so-called DUI checkpoint and you blow high, the truth is that you can.

 

The DUI checkpoint itself might be illegal

So here’s what that means for the average guy: When it comes to trials, there are things your lawyer can argue to get the case tossed: You see, these DUI checkpoints are very closely scrutinized; the cops can’t just put them up wherever they want. If they don’t pass muster, then any stop they make because of the DUI checkpoint is illegal and the arrest unlawful (meaning you win). Look at this:

  1. In truth, the DUI checkpoints have to follow a particular plan. They can’t say that the cops can stop just anyone. They have to describe particularly who the cops can stop (every third car, every car, etc etc).
  2. They cannot be just randomly put up. Gotta have specific times to start and stop. Think of it as being like a search warrant. Gotta be specific so as not to intrude unnecessarily on the 4th amendment rights of the citizenry.
  3. The DUI checkpoints have to be “sponsored” by a certain witness. Like this: if Lieutenant so and so is the “author” of a certain checkpoint plan he had DAMN well be in court when it comes time for trial because if he’s not, the plan cannot be admitted into evidence (based on a hearsay objection).
  4. The cops can’t fake a “license checkpoint” (which is much much less stringently regulated) to try and nab DUIs. The judge in a trial will be the guy who decides whether the checkpoint was principally for DUIs or for licenses.

Punchline

If the state fails in its burden of proof for any one of the above-mentioned points, the stop was ILLEGAL and the case likely gets flushed. Now, this isn’t intended to be a total and complete treatment of the law about DUI checkpoints by any means, but if it makes you see that even these can be combatted by a deft lawyer, then maybe you can breathe a bit easier! Hey, that’s gotta feel good!

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