The holiday season is notorious for being a dangerous time on public roadways. While this may partially be caused by increases in traffic and more out-of-town motorists traveling the streets, drunk and drugged driving play a substantial role in increasing the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths – especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. As such, law enforcement officers across the nation – including those here in California and Ventura County, aggressively increase DUI enforcement.
At Wilfert Law P.C., our Ventura criminal defense attorneys have experience representing clients facing DUI allegations ranging from a first time offense to multiple DUIs and felony charges – including those that occurred during holidays and as the result of increased enforcement initiatives. Not only do our attorneys draw from their extensive experience handling criminal proceedings and administrative DMV hearings involving DUI, we are also able to leverage our insight as former police officers when investigating and advocating for clients.
As former police officers, our team is well aware of the tactics law enforcement use when they increase their focus on stopping and arresting impaired motorists. These commonly include:
- DUI checkpoints – DUI checkpoints, also referred to as sobriety checkpoints, are legal in the state of California. These checkpoints consist of law enforcement officers who make investigatory contact with motorists in hopes of catching drivers who are under the influence, or who are driving without a valid license. Although DUI checkpoints are not unconstitutional in and of themselves, law enforcement officers must still abide by special rules and procedures when conducting them so as not to violate an individual's rights.
- Saturation patrols – Many law enforcement agencies utilize saturation patrols when cracking down on DUIs. These patrols involve officers focused on identifying and stopping motorists who display signs of intoxication, including swerving, unsafe speeds, and other traffic violations. They are often conducted during periods when DUI accidents are statistically more common (such as weekends, nights, and holidays), and at locations where drinking or alcohol-related incidents are common.
- Increased police presence – Holiday DUI enforcement also typically involves having more officers on the road. Thanks to various grants, local agencies can put more officers on patrol to stop and arrest suspects.
While DUI checkpoints and increased DUI enforcement is important to protecting the public, there are always rules and procedures law enforcement must abide by when stopping, investigating, and arresting suspects. This includes having reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop and arrest motorist suspected of a crime. Although this is generally a requirement for most DUI investigations, the California Supreme Court has ruled that sobriety checkpoints are equivalent to airport screenings, and that they are an exception to the Fourth Amendment rule requiring probable cause to conduct an investigation.
Just because an investigation and arrest takes place at a DUI checkpoint does not mean you are guilty. Officers still need to comply with rules and abide by your constitutional rights. During periods of increased enforcement, their zealousness to make arrests may cause them to fail in doing so. Should they fail to abide by the law, any search or arrest they make could be considered unlawful, and form the basis of legal challenges to have key evidence thrown out or a case dismissed entirely. Because every case is different, your available defense options depend on the unique facts surrounding your stop and arrest.
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a holiday DUI in Ventura County, Wilfert Law P.C. is available to help. Contact us for a FREE consultation.