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Police in California fight drunk driving with DUI checkpoints

About 30 percent of the motorists involved in fatal accidents in California each year test positive for drugs or alcohol, which is why police departments in the state take impaired driving extremely seriously. Roadside DUI checkpoints and roadblocks have been ruled unconstitutional in 10 states, including Oregon and Washington, but they are often used by law enforcement in California in the battle against drunk and drugged driving.

According to media reports, one such checkpoint conducted by the Temecula Police Department on the evening of November 16 and the morning of November 17 led to the arrests of two motorists suspected of driving with blood alcohol concentrations higher than California’s .08 percent legal limit. Another driver was cited for violating health and safety laws, and 11 motorists were ticketed for driving either without a driver’s license or with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

During the operation, which began at 8 p.m. and ran until 1:30 a.m., about 1,500 vehicles were stopped on Ynez Road near Harveston Community Park. A TPD representative said that the location was chosen partly because of the number of bars and restaurants in the area that serve alcohol. While DUI checkpoints rarely generate large numbers of arrests, police like them because they are highly visible and assure the public that action is being taken to curb a serious problem.

Breath tests are generally used to determine if drivers are intoxicated at roadside DUI checkpoints, and motorists with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher may be asked to provide a blood sample. While this kind of toxicology evidence is usually reliable and accurate, experienced criminal defense attorneys may challenge it in certain situations. Lawyers could question breath test results generated by poorly maintained equipment, dispute blood tests when samples may have been mishandled or seek to get the drunk driving charges dismissed altogether when their clients suffer from medical conditions that could influence toxicology test outcomes.

Source: The Temecula Patch, 2 Arrested At Temecula DUI Checkpoint, Hoa Quách, November 18, 2018

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.