Gold & Witham Articles City Council Bends On DUI Checkpoint Grant

City Council Bends On DUI Checkpoint Grant

By Gold & Witham, Attorneys at Law  Oct. 22, 2012 11:07a

Politicians Argue Over Constitutionality Of Police Procedure

After initially turning away state grant money for DUI checkpoints, the Fullerton city council recently relented and decided to accept the funds. According to reports from City Hall, the decision was swayed when they were informed the city stood to lose a much larger grant unless they accepted the checkpoint money as well.

The debate over the issue began in August, when the city council passed a unanimous vote to accept a nearly $150,000 grant from the California state Office for Traffic Safety. The money, which is earmarked for use by law enforcement agencies to fund traffic programs, including increased DUI patrols, came as part of a package with another $50,000 in grants to specifically fund a DUI checkpoint program. The council decided, however, to refuse this second part of the package, opting to avoid setting up DUI checkpoints.

When asked about the decision, one councilman said the primary concern was that checkpoints are a violation of a stipulation in the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which is designed to prevent the government from making unlawful and unreasonable searches. DUI checkpoints, he claimed, infringe upon the requirement for reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop. Further, the councilman argued, DUI checkpoints are ineffective at preventing drunk driving and serve only to pad an officer's overtime.

According to a recent statement by the council, however, they were later informed by representatives of the state Traffic Department that, should one part of the deal be refused, they would lose the entire grant. Not only would they not receive the $50,000 for checkpoints, they would be forced to relinquish all $200,000. Upon hearing this news, the mayor asked for another vote from the council to decide on the issue. On September 18th, the council members voted 4 to 1 to accept the entire grant.

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