The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

San Bernardino Sheriff Hopeful Paul Shrader Opposes Checkpoints

A complete unknown who garnered 21.51 percent of the vote in the 2010 San Bernardino Sheriff's election is back on the campaign trails. Paul Schrader ran as a "constitutional sheriff," and despite his relative obscurity prior to the election, managed to snag 38,551 votes.

Who knew San Bernardino even had 38,000 people?

As part of his second go-round, Schrader agreed to answer questions posed by the Inland Empire Examiner. Normally, we don't focus on IE politics, but the question in this issue involved an issue near and dear to our heart: DUI checkpoints.

DUI checkpoints are a controversial topic. Cops see them as a deterrent to drunk driving (and perhaps a way to pile on overtime.) Many citizens see them as a violation of drivers' Fourth Amendment rights. Others just like to point out how completely and utterly useless they are.

The Fourth Amendment controversy stems from the constitutionally-questionable practice of pulling someone over for no reason. Generally, that's a no-no. Cops can't pull you over due to your race, or due to them having a bad day, or to check out the interior of your sweetly tricked-out ride. They have to have a tangible, proper reason, such as suspicion of an ongoing crime.

DUI checkpoints skirt this requirement by pulling everyone over. By indiscriminately harassing the general populace, they escape any allegations of racial profiling or selective enforcement of the law. Any questions of constitutionality are outweighed by the benefit of keeping drunk drivers off of the road.

Unfortunately, the "safety" aspect seems to be a load of crap. Schrader cites a 2008 DMV study that said that only about one percent or less of motorists that pass through DUI checkpoints are arrested for DUI. Part of the problem might be pre-publication of the checkpoint locations. Some say that the publicity acts as a deterrent. Others argue that this alerts drunk drivers to avoid certain streets, as do the various DUI checkpoints apps.

Schrader's solution is simple: the DUI saturation patrol. If you read our weekly checkpoint listings, you'll see that many of our listed checkpoints are actually saturation patrols. The departments essentially dump a ton of cops experienced in DUI enforcement onto the streets in a particular area. This has the desired effect of getting drunks off the road while preventing the unconstitutional stops at the ineffective checkpoints.

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