SLO police holding DUI checkpoint on Friday night

August 18, 2023


San Luis Obispo police announced plans to conduct a DUI checkpoint in the city at an undisclosed location on Friday evening from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

The department selects the location based on a history of DUI crashes and arrests. Officers check licenses and insurance while looking for signs of impairment.

“Impaired drivers put others on the road at significant risk,” Sgt. Evan Stradley said. “Any prevention measures that reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roads significantly improves traffic safety.”

Drivers caught driving impaired and charged with a first-time DUI face an average of $13,500 in fines and penalties, as well as a suspended license.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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I’m all in favor of police “looking for signs of impairment” at a DUI checkpoint. This is an observation of behavior in public. My grandparents were killed by a drunk driver many years ago, and I grew up having only one set of grandparents, so I know the terrible consequence drunk driving can have.

However, I think it is clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment when “Officers check licenses and insurance” as these are acts of an illegal search. “The right of the people to be secure in their… papers…against unreasonable searches… shall not be violated…” without a warrant based on “probable cause, supported by Oath…”. This is what our Constitution’s Fourth Amendment says, and it is a portion of what is also called the Bill of Rights. Asking for a license and/or proof of insurance is acceptable, but demanding same under threat of arrest is not acceptable. There’s no warrant, and even if there was, it wouldn’t be specific to that person, and wouldn’t be obtained by affirmation of any crime committed by that individual.  (This the same as stopping someone on the street and arbitrarily demanding “Papers!”, which is for right now at least, still illegal).

I’m probably going to get a lot of criticism from those to whom the Constitution is just a suggestion or just a nuisance, and those who cannot recognize a police state even when experiencing it. If we don’t draw the line somewhere we will soon regularly experience police secretly searching houses without a warrant while occupants are not home, or police searching offices and homes of the press sans warrant and seizing property just because the police are afraid of what that press outlet might say about them. This is all done with complete impunity. (Both these incidents occurred in the US and are or have been in the news recently.)

I think it is clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment”

“I’m probably going to get a lot of criticism from those to whom the Constitution is just a suggestion ”

Why are you ignoring decades of case law and multiple trips to both Supreme Courts that have found that temporary DUI checkpoint stops (without reasonable suspicion) do not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of drivers at checkpoints. 

Extra irony that the public notice that helps makes this checkpoint legally acceptable triggered op (who is not a lawyer).

Normally I would not even respond to a comment such as this, but you clearly misunderstood my point. My complaint is not about the stop. My objection is about the unjustifiable demand for documents which will in no way tell the cop if the driver is impaired.

but you clearly misunderstood my point..” No.

The “demand for documents” at dui checkpoints was included and does not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of drivers at checkpoints. Everything about California dui checkpoints has been challenged.

If you have new grounds to challenge past court cases, go for it, otherwise it is a opinion, not a violation.