Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Challenging The "Nuetral Formula" Criteria in a DUI Checkpoint Case

California has grown increasingll dependent on DUI checkpoints in the arrest of DWI drivers.  There are ways to challenge these detentions and ensure that the police complied with the laws. Attacks on drunk driving roadblock arrests can be based upon any failure to comply with the “certain limitations,” which the Ingersoll opinion referred to. Each is discussed in detail in that opinion. Nothing in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Michigan Dep’t of State Police v. Sitz (1990) 496 U.S. 444, criticized these guidelines or recommended others. The Ingersoll guidelines fall under the following general headings:

A. Decision Making at the Supervisory Level ( In many cases the checkpoint is set up by a Sergeant with limited      Supervisory Powers)
B. Limits on Discretion of Field Officers
C. Maintenance of Safety Conditions
D. Reasonable Location
E. Time and Duration
F. Indicia of Official Nature of Roadblock
G. Length and Nature of Detention
H. Advance Publicity

One of the best challenges to a DUI roadblock is to demonstrate the lack of uniformity in the operation of the checkpoint. With regard to the issue concerning the limits on discretion by field officers, the California Supreme Court, in Ingersoll v. Palmer, supra, noted the following:

A related concern is that motorist should not be subject to the unbridled discretion of the officer in the field as to who is to be stopped. Instead, a neutral formula such as every driver or every third, fifth or tenth driver, should be employed. To permit an officer to determine to stop any particular driver or car when there is no legitimate basis for the determination would be to sanction the kind of unconstrained and standardless discretion which the United States Supreme Court sought to circumcise in its decision in Prouse, supra, [citations omitted]. In all the checkpoint programs at issue here, neutral mathematical selection criteria were used. 

Matthew Ruff is a DUI Lawyer in Torrance California.