Vista Judge Rules Escondido DUI Checkpoint Case To Go To Trial

A Vista judge denied the motion to exclude evidence against two men who were passing through a drunk driving checkpoint and refused to unroll their window, which prompted an Escondido officer to break his window and make an arrest for resisting an officer.

The North County Times reported that Angel Navarrete and his passenger, Daniel Alfaro, drove through a sobriety checkpoint on February 11th, 2011, around 7:30 p.m., on East Valley Parkway and Juniper Street. Navarrete refused to roll his window all the way down as he video recorded the police response. His intention was to challenge the Escondido checkpoint and was totally sober while confronting the officers.

The motion was heard on July 8th, in front of Judge Robert Kearney. The attorneys for the men argued that the arrest was illegal because drivers are not required by law to roll down their window at a checkpoint and Navarrete’s window was unrolled enough for the officer to conduct an investigation. They also pointed out that the proper procedures for a checkpoint were not followed in this case. The judge disagreed and denied the motion. The trial is set for August 30th.

A defendant may motion the court to suppress evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5, if the search or seizure without a warrant was unreasonable. Under People v. Williams, a warrantless search or arrest is presumptively illegal. When the question of the legality of an arrest or a search or seizure is raised, the defendant makes a prima facie case of illegality where the arrest, search, or seizure was accomplished without a warrant, then the burden rests upon the prosecution to show proper justification for the arrest, search, or seizure.

If the court finds the prosecution failed to meet their burden, the defense motion will be granted. The prosecution will then decide if it has enough evidence that is admissible to proceed with the matter. Often cases are dismissed or lesser charges with lesser penalties are offered.

Note: This is a follow-up story to one previously published in this blog on May 6th, 2011, (see “Escondido Sobriety Checkpoint Challenged“).

If you are charged with DUI anywhere in San Diego County and you are not sure what to do next, never just plead guilty. Talk to The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman to discuss your rights and to evaluate your matter to see if a 1538.5 motion, or any other motions, should be filed in your case. For a free, confidential case evaluation, use the “Contact Us” form on this page or call 619-260-1122 today.

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