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El Cajon police set up a checkpoint in the parking lot of the El Cajon Superior Court on Thursday afternoon, April 17, checking drivers entering the lot for licenses, registration, and insurance.

The checkpoint coincided with the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Victim Impact Panel, which convenes on the third Thursday of each month. The class is usually required of people as part of the sentence for a DUI conviction.

"We're not supposed to be driving," said a heavily tatted guy who would only give his first name. “Tim” pointed to his bicycle as he watched a flatbed tow truck winch up a Ford Explorer. "It's just one bad decision after another."

Police outside said it was a coincidence that they were checking licenses on DUI class day.

"We do this once a month with grant money from the county Office of Traffic Safety," Officer Cravener said. "I don't know how they schedule it." But similar stings have occurred in the past — the La Mesa Police Department confirmed they had targeted DUI classes in the past at the courthouse.

Calls to the El Cajon police spokesman and to the traffic division for comment were not returned.

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Comments

Ponzi April 18, 2014 @ 7:38 p.m.

What the El Cajon Police have done is illegal. The U.S. Supreme Court only ruled on the use of "sobriety checkpoints" may be permitted "in the interest of public safety." There has never been a challenge to these morphed checkpoints that law enforcement are increasingly conducting. Stopping motorists at random is illegal. Stopping motorist at a checkpoint without proper advance public notice and a warning before entering the checkpoint zone is illegal. Stopping motorist without probable cause is illegal. All of the actions described in the story are illegal and a violation of a citizens constitutional rights.

I would advise anyone who has been contacted, stopped, cited or arrested to contact the American Civil Liberties Union and request representation. I would encourage people to stand up to the increasing illegal and unethical behavior of law enforcement agencies that violate federal law and march down the road to a police state. Shame on the El Cajon Police for violating the civil rights of the people. Both the La Mesa Police and the El Cajon Police are rogue agencies and behave like private police states.

"He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither." - Benjamin Franklin

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rehftmann April 18, 2014 @ 9:16 p.m.

Ponzi: Your position collapses on itself. This is not a "random checkpoint" and those convicted offenders who take advantage of essentially probationary alternatives to punishment for willful acts (drunk driving for heaven's sake) should not be confused with people profiled for "driving while black" or similar non-offenses. That's public safety, not social repression. If you come out of a drunk driver program drunk and get arrested, spare the ACLU and get one of those lawyers who advertises on bus benches, where drunk drivers belong.

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Ponzi April 19, 2014 @ 8:11 a.m.

rehftmann, I am not taking a “position” I am stating a fact. The checkpoint described in this story is illegal. Did you read the story? It said nothing about the drivers leaving the courthouse under the influence. They were contacted to see if they had a valid driver's license. Presently there is no law in the United States that permit law enforcement (without first having an instance of probable cause) to ask for “your papers please” unless it is on a military base.

In addition, you need to learn the definition of “random.” Here’s some help; “made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision - odd, unusual, or unexpected.” Besides being unconstitutional, the El Cajon Police are conducting a random checkpoint because it is not consistent or expected. The only way some of these people know about it is through rumors and stories such as this article.

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dbdriver April 22, 2014 @ 7:45 a.m.

California DMV Handbook states "You must always have your driver license with you when you drive. Show it to any police officer who asks to see it." This type of roadblock is legal as long as they are checking everybody who goes through. They are not allowed to search your vehicle for other potential offenses.

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Ponzi April 22, 2014 @ 9:18 a.m.

You are wrong. But you are free to prove me wrong by citing the law that permits checkpoints (other than for a sobriety check and borders).

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dbdriver April 22, 2014 @ 11:29 a.m.

found on: http://criminal.lawyers.com/traffic-violations/traffic-stops-and-roadblocks.html

Roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints are permitted under the Fourth Amendment so long as they are conducted in a neutral or non-arbitrary manner, their intrusion on motorists is limited, and they further an important governmental or public purpose. There is no requirement that an officer have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify a stop at a roadblock. Factors that determine whether a roadblock is neutral and does not overly intrude on motorists include whether:

Supervisory personnel or field officers make the decision to set up a roadblock
The roadblock is conducted according to neutral plans or guidelines
Cars are stopped randomly or are selected at the discretion of officers
The roadblock causes an unreasonable delay to motorists
The roadblock is clearly marked as a checkpoint
Officers conducting the checkpoint are properly trained and experienced
Advance notice is given to the public
Safe conditions are maintained

Roadblocks have been found to further a governmental interest in the following instances:

Catching and deterring drunk driving
**Checking for vehicle or license registration**
Addressing highway safety concerns, such as seatbelt law enforcement
Policing the border
Acquiring information on a recent violent crime in the area

A roadblock is not justified to obtain evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing or of drug crimes. Some state constitutions prohibit roadblocks and require officers to have an individualized suspicion to justify a vehicle stop.

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Ponzi April 23, 2014 @ 5:27 p.m.

"The roadblock is clearly marked as a checkpoint." I most certainly doubt the El Cajon Police set up the signs indicating there was a checkpoint. I also suspect they did not give advance notice to the public. Also, the story makes it sound like they checked every car that entered the parking lot.

So, according to your information, the checkpoint was conducted illegally.

Also, you might try to get some scholarly information instead of relying on the statement on the blog of a random lawyer. ONLY sobriety checkpoints are permitted under the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Checkpoints for license or others papers (only) have never been legal. His blog is wrong.

The Fourth Amendment's reasonableness standard prohibits officers from randomly stopping vehicles to check driver's licenses and registration. Case: Delaware v. Prouse

Just because the rouge police forces are getting way with illegal checkpoints doesn't imply that they are illegal. Police forces engage in illegal acts every minute of every day. Governments do as well, such as illegal wars based on false claims of weapons of mass destruction.

I am not sure why you continue to defend the El Cajon Police forces illegal actions in this matter unless you are one of their employees. However, I suggest if you want to be credible you take the time to study the law and cite accurate sources. That will lift you, at least in appearance, above the drywall hanger-with-a-badge mentality that most policemen actually are.

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dbdriver April 24, 2014 @ 7:58 a.m.

I am not a member of the police dept., nor am I associated in any way. I am also not a lawyer myself. It does seem that there can be many different meanings read into laws as they are written, and that lawyers train to be able to interpret them in ways to benefit different people.

I looked up the case of Delaware v. Prouse that you referenced. It seems that this particular case was a completely random traffic stop, with no basis of suspicion that would have allowed the stop. However, this judgement also states:

(d) The holding in this case does not preclude Delaware or other States from developing methods for spot checks that involve less intrusion or that do not involve the unconstrained exercise of discretion. Questioning of all oncoming traffic at roadblock-type stops is one possible alternative. P. 663.

From what I can determine, this does not state that this is illegal. Just technically a workaround.

Regarding notices, while currently I have not seen a specific notice for this particular incident, I have seen posted online and in print of various checkpoints that have been planned. I see one currently that took place back in December...

http://www.elcajonpress.com/newsletters/newsletter/4723712/91808.htm

I have never myself gone through one of these checkpoints, but so far, I have not seen evidence of illegality.

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AzureMatty April 20, 2014 @ 7:10 a.m.

Alcohol affects your judgment. Signed, Impaired Driver

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Ponzi April 29, 2014 @ 10:31 p.m.

Misplaced, over zealous dry-wall hangers with a badge cops abuse power. It's a complicated world and it's too bad it is policed by high school graduates instead of more educated people. Cops are not necessarily bad, they are just, by comparison to many people in our society today, dumb. We have dumb people with weapons violating our rights and then wondering why we hate them.

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