Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) May 31, 2012
Memorial Day is the traditional kickoff of summer, complete with barbecues, concerts, sporting events and beach days. For police in Los Angeles, sobriety checkpoints are also a summer staple, with the goal of making the roads safer during this celebratory season. Veteran Los Angeles DUI attorney Lawrence Wolf warns that sobriety checkpoints aren't always properly administered, and innocent drivers are sometimes singled out and wrongly arrested.
"Sobriety or DUI checkpoints can be a great tool in law enforcement efforts to increase safety for everyone," says Mr. Wolf. "But in my more than 35 years of practicing DUI defense, I have seen numerous cases where officers - despite good intentions - make mistakes and misjudgments resulting in a wrongful arrest."
According to http://www.californiaavoid.org, summer holidays are recognized as increased enforcement periods, during which "Law enforcement uses every resource available to include: Sobriety/Driver License Checkpoints, Local Saturation Patrols, Multi Agency DUI Task Force Operations, along with Warrant/Probation Sweeps and Court Stings which target repeat DUI offenders." According to Lawrence Wolf, it is easy to see how such a wide net could catch innocent as well as guilty parties.
Sobriety checkpoints are usually set up at busy intersections, on high-traffic roads, or near venues where many people will be consuming alcohol. Officers will stop every second or third car and ask them to pull over to an adjacent area. At this point, the driver is asked to step out of the vehicle for assessment by the officer. Officers are trained to look for signs that a driver is under the influence of alcohol of drugs. Such signs include red eyes, slurred speech, fumbling or the smell of alcohol. However, this process is highly subjective, and many sober drivers may be wrongly suspected of being under the influence.
"One of the biggest problems I find is the bias that occurs when an officer is already convinced that a driver has been drinking," says Mr. Wolf. "The officer may then subject the motorist to field sobriety tests that are often flawed or inconclusive at best."
Drivers who have been arrested for DUI at a sobriety checkpoint are typically unaware of their rights and the rules that regulate sobriety checkpoints in California, according to Mr. Wolf. "There are numerous opportunities for defending a DUI charge stemming from a sobriety checkpoint, and I often get charges reduced or even dismissed because the checkpoint did not meet the legal requirements."
In order for a Los Angeles DUI checkpoint to be constitutionally recognized (http://www.only-dui.com/dui-basics/dui-overview.cfm), it must follow carefully established guidelines, including:
- Supervising officers must be in charge
- The checkpoint must be reasonably located
- The checkpoint must be publicly advertised
- Drivers who do not wish to stop at the checkpoint must be allowed to leave
- Vehicles must be selected using an unbiased mathematical formula
Law enforcement agencies wishing to promote public safety through sobriety checkpoints must be very careful to adhere to the guidelines for checkpoints as established by the California Supreme Court.
Legal experts agree that anyone who believes he or she was improperly administered a sobriety checkpoint test and was inaccurately deemed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs should immediately contact a reputable defense attorney. Mr. Wolf agrees, stating "I agree with the concept behind sobriety checkpoints, but I also feel very strongly that every suspected drunk driver deserves a top-notch defense."
Lawrence Wolf (http://www.only-dui.com) is a veteran attorney who has dedicated more than 35 years to successful DUI defense. He is respected and renowned within the Los Angeles legal community, and is consulted regularly by the media as an authority on legal defense. Additionally, he has pioneered the development of numerous forms of alternative sentencing, and established the Center for Law and Addiction. He has earned numerous awards and honors in both the legal field and in the Los Angeles community.