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Recent Bay Area sobriety checkpoint duly spotlights the practice

California law enforcers have many tools at their discretion when it comes to identifying, stopping and arresting alleged drunk drivers. Those range from roving saturation patrols to sobriety checkpoints.

Our blog post today spotlights the latter resource, which was employed last Saturday night on a South San Francisco thoroughfare. The checkpoint featured more than a modicum of drama.

For starters, one detained motorist reportedly became physical with police officers at the scene. Another allegedly ran through a red light and was apprehended while fleeing the scene on foot.

Although law enforcement officials routinely laud the results of checkpoint efforts, relevant statistics often belie their touted effects.

Here’s a statistic reported from last week’s initiative: Police data indicate that only five drivers were arrested on DUI charges pursuant to a five-hour detainment exercise that stopped 820 vehicles. Extrapolated, that equates to only one motorist arrested out of every 164 questioned and screened.

It seems fair to question the effectiveness and cost-benefit calculations linked with sobriety checkpoints in select instances. That would certainly seem to be the case when a roadblock geared toward apprehending drunk drivers achieves that goal in only slightly more than one-half of one percent of all detainments.

Checkpoints have long been legal in California and most other states, being sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their application is sometimes questioned, but usually approved by courts when there is reasonable evidence that certain safeguards are followed. Those centrally include a showing of impartiality that is absent selective enforcement aimed at particular drivers.

Readers wanting to know more about sobriety roadblocks can glean relevant information from an article on our website at The Law Office of John W. Noonan that delves into the basics of checkpoints.

The legality of checkpoints notwithstanding, California motorists have legal rights when they are stopped by law enforcers looking for evidence of criminal wrongdoing. A proven criminal defense attorney can provide further information.

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