Al Michaels Arrested At DUI Checkpoint

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Al Michaels, the legendary sportscaster, was arrested Friday night after police officers pulled him over for making an illegal u-turn just feet away from a DUI checkpoint.  Santa Monica police officers listed the normal DUI talking points: slurred speech, detected an odor of alcohol emitting from his breath and an unsteady gait, as preliminary objective symptoms of intoxication and made the arrest.

That night, a DUI checkpoint was set up in the 1800 block of Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica.  What many people are unaware of is that in order for the DUI checkpoint to be legal, law enforcement must satisfy a number of rules.  The California landmark case of Ingersoll v. Palmer is law of our state on this.  First, supervising officers must determine where and how a checkpoint is located, usually where a high number of DUI arrests have been made previously.  Second, the DUI checkpoint must be reasonably located.  Third, the DUI checkpoint must be publicly advertised, meaning warning signs, flashing lights and presence of uniformed police officers.  Lastly, and most important, the driver must have the opportunity to drive away and not go through the checkpoint if they want to.  Keep in mind that the driver may still be stopped if they commit a traffic violation or display obviously signs of intoxication.  There are usually “chase officers” that are posted down the street from a checkpoint who often go after those who turn away.

In Mr. Michaels’ case, he made a u turn, likely when he saw the checkpoint, and got pulled over.  What Mr. Michaels probably didn’t realize is that u turns are illegal in a business district (essentially any street lined with shops and stores) and this gave the police officers all the probable cause they needed to pull him over.  Once this initial contact was made, it was game over for Al.

If you have been arrested going through a checkpoint, you might think that there is nothing you can do about it.  Well, that couldn’t be father from the truth.  As this article mentioned above, there are many rules that law enforcement must comply with in order to have a “legal” checkpoint.  It takes an aggressive and detail-oriented attorney to make sure the police did their job and that the checkpoint complied with all the constitutional regulations.

Because many people are stopped at the checkpoint and arrested, in many cases the police never actually witness any “bad driving” or signs of “driving under the influence” before coming into contact with you.  This can, potentially, be instrumental in getting your charges dismissed or reduced.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, North Hollywood, Burbank or anywhere in Los Angeles County, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible and avoid your license from getting suspended.