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AZHARI LLC BLOG

Jul. 5 2016

AL MICHAELS TRIES TO DODGE SOBRIETY CHECKPOINT

Posted By: Sami Azhari
Category:

Famed NBC sportscaster Al Michaels was arrested on drunk-driving allegations after making a U-turn next to a DUI sobriety checkpoint, officials said. A longtime announcer on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” Michaels was arrested about 10 p.m. Friday in Santa Monica, booked into jail and released on his own recognizance early Saturday. Michaels is scheduled to appear in L.A. Municipal Court on June 26.

Roadblocks or, roadside safety checkpoints, are primarily aimed at apprehending and deterring DUI offenders. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that roadside safety checks are not an impermissible intrusion on a motorist’s 4th Amendment rights, and are necessary to prevent danger on our roads and highways. In Illinois, after receiving funding from the United States Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation provides Roadside Safety Check grant funding to the Illinois State Police. The Illinois State Police distributes and provides the grant money to local police departments to operate a roadside safety check. Troopers from the Illinois State Police usually lead a roadside safety check operation.

Motorists enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy on roadways. The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees motorists the right to be free from unwarranted seizures. The United States Supreme Court has observed that individuals find a greater sense of security and privacy in traveling in an automobile than they do in exposing themselves through other modes of travel.

At roadblocks, police officers stop motorists without having any probable cause or individualized suspicion. However the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have held that such roadblocks are not per se unconstitutional. If the state’s public purpose in setting up the roadblock is sufficient to outweigh the intrusion on the motorist, then the roadblock may be deemed constitutional. Roadblocks may not be established for the primary purpose of detecting ordinary criminal wrongdoing. Roadblocks are deemed to have a legitimate purpose if they have a close connection to roadway safety. In DUI roadblock cases, the public purpose behind the roadblock is obviously compelling. The critical question in such cases is the level of intrusion occasioned by the roadblock stop.

Assessing the intrusiveness of a roadblock involves a dual inquiry: (1) the objective intrusion and (2) the subjective intrusion attendant to the roadblock stop. “The objective intrusion is measured by such factors as the length of the stop, the nature of the questioning, and whether a search was conducted.” Where the stop is brief and motorists are able to remain in their cars, only being asked to produce credentials, the objective intrusion is minimal.

Subjective intrusiveness relates to the level of “concern,” “fright,” or “annoyance,” generated by the roadblock. Although there is no formula for assessing the subjective intrusiveness of a roadblock, courts consider the following factors: (1) whether there were preexisting written guideline for the operation of the checkpoint (such as a specific state manual); (2) whether there was advance publicity of the intention of the police to establish the checkpoint; (3) whether the decision to establish the checkpoint and the selection of the site was made by a politically accountable or policy making level official; (4) whether the vehicles were stopped in a pre-established, systematic manner to avoid any concern by motorists that they are being singled out; (5) whether there is a sufficient demonstration of the official nature of the roadblock; and (6) whether it is obvious that the checkpoint in fact poses no safety risk and does not unduly back up traffic.

It is critical that all factors of the checkpoint be analyzed in defending a DUI defendant. Sami is experienced at defending charges of driving under the influence as well as other criminal and traffic matters. For assistance with a traffic violation or criminal matter, please feel free to contact him at (312) 626-2871.