DUI Checkpoint – Villa Park, Orange County 6/25/10

Villa Park DUI Checkpoint announced

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced today that they will be conducting a checkpoint in Villa Park Friday, June 25th from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 the next morning. The specific location within the city was not revealed.

It’s being described as a “safety” checkpoint, but you know what that means – a DUI checkpoint. By classifying it as a safety checkpoint, they will use this as their justification for stopping anyone passing through and demanding your license and sniffing for alcohol.

Is this legal?  Ordinarily, they must have “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity before they can legally stop you. They must have evidence of some sort of law violation – anything from a burnt out tail light, no front plate or an actual driving offense. The courts have allowed checkpoints and the police’s ability to stop and interrogate during these checkpoints, even with no violation of the law. Why? They say it’s for “public safety.”

But it’s not an absolute right they have. To be valid, DUI checkpoints must meet certain criteria about their set-up, screening criteria, wait limits, escape routes, etc.  If they fail to follow the guidelines, the checkpoint – and more importantly any stops and any evidence gathered (such as blood alcohol levels) is inadmissible.

Should you find yourself in a checkpoint, you must cooperate. The time to fight things will be later. But coooperating doesn’t mean you have to help them build a case against you. You can decline to answer any questions beyond your identity (such as “Have you been drinking?”) and you’re NOT required to submit to their roadside breathalyzer if you’re over 21. The only chemical test you’re required to submit to is AFTER you’re lawfully arrested.

If you are arrested and they take away your license, you only have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to challenge the suspension of your license.  Don’t miss that deadline – they can be very unforgiving.

Joe Dane

(714) 532-3600

info@joedane.com

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