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Honolulu dui Attorney

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Roadblocks, DUI checkpoints, Impairment checkpoints, whatever you want to call them, all mean one thing – a motorist is stopped and, at least, questioned by the police simply for legally driving down the road.  This has become such a common occurrence that people have stopped asking “can they really stop me at a roadblock?” or “is this still America?”  Nevertheless, despite your feelings about these roadblocks, the Honolulu Police Department aggressively and frequently conducts DUI / OVUII roadblocks.

These roadblocks and checkpoints are allowed in America and in Hawaii.  However, police are supposed to “scrupulously” comply with statutory and police department regulations before and while conducting the DUI / OVUII roadblock or checkpoint.  In Honolulu, it appears, however, that the police have abandoned some these regulations, all of which are designed to protect Hawaii citizens and others traveling through Hawaii.

For example, the governing regulations are designed to remove the discretion from the officers in the field.  This is to prevent the police officers who are conducting the roadblock or checkpoint from arbitrarily stopping motorists that they personally do not like or find distasteful.  Unfortunately, it does not take much imagination to conclude that without these regulations in place, people with certain ethnic, racial, or cultural backgrounds would be stopped more frequently than others.  Thus, the idea is to develop objective regulations that would prevent this type of discrimination.

Problem solved right?  Wrong.  In Honolulu (and presumably Hawaii) a Sergeant or supervisor is required to be present at the roadblock during the entire time the roadblock is being conducted.  (Many people have seen the media releases about the Sergeants that were charged with lying on their reports – this is the regulation that was at issue and the Sergeants were accused of having not actually been present, despite having sworn in a report that they were).  Yet, it is those Sergeants that make the decisions of when, where, what time, and how to conduct the roadblocks.   They even decide which cars to stop.  Thus, the discretion has not been removed from the officers in the field, but instead placed squarely within the hands of an officer in the field.

Another prevalent example is that Hawaii regulations have a recurring theme of “adequate notice.”  Other jurisdictions have (albeit intellectually dishonest) held that roadblocks are designed for deterrence rather than enforcement of crimes.  The idea is that if motorists are aware that they could encounter a roadblock, they will not drink and drive.  Hawaii furthers this purpose of deterrence by requiring adequate notice.  The statute requires notice of the “fact and purpose” of the roadblock.  An internal police regulation requires “prior media notice” of the roadblock.
The Honolulu Police Department has circumvented this notice requirement entirely.  The sergeant will strategically select a location for the roadblock where there is no escape.  (For example, the Ala Wai is a one-way road with three one-way streets in a row that feed into it.  The roadblock will be placed after the last one-way feeder street so that no motorist may turn to avoid the roadblock).  Further, the Honolulu Police Department’s media notice simply says that there may be a roadblock anywhere on Oahu at any time during a two or three month period.  Thus, there is no real deterrence effect.  By the time the motorist knows there is a roadblock, he or she is driving into it.  Instead of a program of deterrence, Honolulu’s roadblock program is one of revenue generation and statistics inflation.

Hawaii OVUII DUI Attorney Located in Honolulu HI Who Can Help You.

Notably, Honolulu DUI lawyer Richard Holcomb has not had the opportunity to appeal these issues.  The reason is that approximately half of the roadblocks have defects such as an outdated media notice or the sign at the roadblock fails to notify the motorist of the purpose of the roadblock.  Further, the prosecutors, currently, have difficulty admitting into evidence the paperwork necessary to establish the legality of the roadblock.  But, most often, so many officers are required to appear at the proceedings that the State is not ready to proceed and Defendants enjoy a Rule 48 dismissal (this is the 6 month speedy trial law in Hawaii).  Thus, roadblocks are highly defensible.  Even where the remaining facts of the case are terrible, the roadblock must be proven by the State to have been a legal roadblock.  Otherwise, the Defendant wins.

Another advantage that Defendants who were stopped at roadblocks have is that there is rarely any “bad driving.”  Generally, there is a reason to stop someone such as swerving, crossing lines, or running a traffic light.  These police observations are used against Defendants to show they were drunk.  In roadblock cases, the only reason that you were stopped is because you one of the predetermined number of cars driving down the road.  This lack of erratic driving evidence is obviously helpful to your case.


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