As Massachusetts revelers prepare to ring in the New Year, law enforcement agencies are gearing up for the launch of an aggressive effort to arrest drunk drivers.
Massachusetts OUI lawyers are also prepared. We know that these blitzkrieg law enforcement attacks are often riddled with technical errors. Police tend to be so concerned with volume during these operations that they often compromise the quality of the arrest.
This is particularly true during the course of sobriety checkpoints, which must adhere to very strict legal protocol. While the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the legality of checkpoints, so long as they adhere to these protocol, which includes stopping vehicles at random and having a supervising officer on scene at all times.
Meanwhile, there are 12 states where checkpoints have been barred. One of those, Texas, is the scene of ongoing debates regarding the merits and pitfalls of these operations. These discussions serve to shed light on how we currently operate.
In Texas, checkpoints have been outlawed for the last 20 years. Police in San Antonio are now urging the state Legislature to reconsider. Such proposals have been unsuccessfully proposed just about every year in the Lone Star state since 1994.
Still, others, such as the director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, suggests that the debate is mostly political posturing. The fact is, checkpoints aren't necessary, they are ineffective, expensive and they expand police power. As the director put it, "Every time you do that, they have more discretion and they can use it in discriminatory ways."
That is what often concerns Boston DUI lawyers. Discrimination can be easily alleged when officers at checkpoints fail to follow the proper numeric format of stopping every, say, fourth vehicle. This may seem fairly simple, but when you're stopping hundreds of vehicles within an hour or so, there can be a certain level of confusion and details can be missed.
Another proposal Texas is considering is "No Refusal Weekends." These are operations in which a judge is on site during checkpoints or traffic stops to sign off on warrants compelling suspected drunk drivers to submit to blood or breathalyzer tests, even when they have refused. Massachusetts has considered such operations as well, with our state being the second-highest state in the country where suspected drunk drivers refuse testing (41 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The problem with the No Refusal Weekend continues to be that if a judge is processing these warrant requests in assembly-line fashion, how much consideration is truly being given to each case? A strong argument could be made that it isn't much of one.
Ultimately, what we want you to understand as you set out to celebrate this New Year's Eve, is that no matter the circumstances surrounding your arrest, we are prepared with a defense.
There have been numerous successful challenges made with regard to the results of both breathalyzers and blood tests, as well as arrests made in traffic stops where probable cause was faulty or police reports were inaccurate.
We want you to have a safe and happy holiday celebration. If you are arrested, don't let it ruin the new year. Call us to see how we can help.
Call (508) 455-4755 in Attleboro or (781) 686-5924 in Stoughton. Free Consultation 24/7.
Get a free copy of DUI Defense Attorney Michael Delsignore's e-book "Understanding Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws."
Checkpoint debate renewing, Dec. 17, 2012, Staff Report, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Massachusetts OUI Checkpoints Relied Upon By State Police, Dec. 6, 2012, Massachusetts OUI Lawyer Blog