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CHP to End Sobriety Checks Pending High Court Ruling

October 17, 1986|From Times Wire Services

SACRAMENTO — The California Highway Patrol, citing adverse court decisions, will halt its sobriety checkpoint program as of Sunday, pending a decision by the state Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the program, CHP officials said Thursday.

Officials said no checkpoints will be set up across California pending a state Supreme Court decision on a lower court ruling that overturned a checkpoint-generated drunk-driving conviction.

Under the checkpoint program, the CHP set up roadblocks and scrutinized drivers for signs of intoxication.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana ruled Sept. 19 that the checkpoints represented unconstitutional searches and violated motorists' "freedom of movement."

The court, in a decision written by Justice Thomas F. Crosby Jr., concluded that the searches do not fit into any exceptions carved out by the courts to the rule that warrantless police arrests without probable cause are illegal. The case involved an unidentified juvenile in Anaheim on New Year's Eve, 1984.

That decision conflicts with a ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco in December, which found the checkpoints legal. Both cases have been appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Most of the checkpoints have been run in conjunction with holiday seasons. But CHP Capt. W. O. Frazier said that if there is no Supreme Court ruling by this year's holidays, authorities will fall back on traditional enforcement methods, such as stepped-up patrols, and an increased public awareness effort.

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