If you’ve driven a car around Oxnard for at least a few months, you’ve probably seen – or was pulled over at – DUI checkpoints, aka sobriety checkpoints.
In Oxnard and everywhere else in California, when police pull car drivers over, they must have probable cause.
However, most often than not, reasonable suspicion never applies when police stop you at DUI roadblocks to look for signs of alcohol or drug impairment ( the smell of alcohol, the smoke of marijuana, slurred speech, dilated pupils, etc.).
As the holiday season is around the corner, DUI roadblocks in Oxnard will become more common, as the period from the middle of December to early January is the deadliest time of year on the roads of the U.S., when DUI accidents quadruple.
Fact: there were almost 2,270 DUI arrests made between December 13, 2013, and January 1, 2014, across our nation.
While statistics show that sobriety checkpoints in most states of the U.S. have prevented countless injuries and fatalities as well as saved a great deal of money in property damage, DUI checkpoints are still widely criticized by motorists, says a car accident attorney here at the Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman.
Oxnard police make 8 DUI arrests at one checkpoint on Friday night
Earlier this month – less than a week before Thanksgiving – Oxnard police was reported to have made eight arrests of drivers suspected of DUI at just one checkpoint on Friday night.
The checkpoint ‘marathon’ ran for seven hours, from 8 pm Friday to 3 am Saturday, which is very common for Oxnard police to set up sobriety checkpoints on Friday and Saturday nights when the number of alcohol and drug-impaired drivers typically skyrockets.
The first DUI roadblock was set up in the southbound lanes of Ventura Road near Devonshire Drive; then police officers moved to westbound Wooley Road west of A Street.
A total of nearly 900 drivers were screened that night (Oxnard police also issued 11 citations to unlicensed drivers, and made a felony warrant arrest that night).
DUI arrests at sobriety checkpoints can be unlawful
Despite statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that sobriety roadblocks reduced fatalities, injuries and property damage in car accidents involving alcohol or drug-impaired drivers by about 20% across the U.S., motorists are not exactly happy with random DUI screenings.
Fact: DUI checkpoints help reduce alcohol-related traffic collisions by 17 percent.
Public discontent with DUI roadblocks in Oxnard is fueled by the fact that police officers oftentimes are not guided by any pattern whatsoever when stopping motorists. In fact, police are allowed to pull drivers over without having probable cause (feeling free to stop every driver for no reason at all).
Some police officers establish a pattern of stopping every 10th car, but most do not follow any rules of sobriety checkpoints. This allows police officers to discriminate against certain motorists based on their car model, gender or race.
Even though statistics shows that DUI checkpoints have helped reduce the number of DUI-related car accidents across country, and even though these checkpoints do not take much of a sober driver’s time (screening lasts about the same time as a red light), it still shouldn’t allow police to get a free pass to break the law.
Typically, in order to arrest an Oxnard motorist on suspicion of alcohol or drug impairment, police officers must conduct testing such as a breath test or field sobriety testing.
What to do if you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint?
Here at the Law Offices of J. Jeffrey Herman, our Oxnard car accident lawyers have witnessed many DUI arrests at sobriety checkpoints in Oxnard went go wrong. Police officers oftentimes discriminate against certain groups of drivers, and/or arrest motorists on suspicion of impairment without any valid evidence of DUI.
If you were arrested for DUI at a sobriety checkpoint in Oxnard, your first – and best – line of defense is hiring a car accident attorney who would find evidence that this particular checkpoint ran unlawfully or incorrectly (thus invalidating evidence of DUI), and there was no reasonable suspicion of you driving under the influence in the first place.