"DUI Checkpoints are illegal in Rhode Island; however…"

DUI checkpoints continue to generate a lot of debate and discussion.

The latest skirmish involving DUI checkpoints comes from at least two states that are now reconsidering the legality and effectiveness of DUI checkpoints in the first place. In Utah, a bill will soon be considered by the state House of Representatives that would completely ban police from setting up DUI checkpoints, FOX 13 reports. Utah state Rep. David Butterfield, a sponsor of the bill, believes that DUI checkpoints violate citizens' rights against unreasonable searches. "The Utah Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have both held that they are constitutional under very narrow guidelines, but that's problematic," he said.

Similarly, WestIslip Patch reports, New Hampshire lawmakers are also considering a proposal to prohibit state police from setting up DUI checkpoints, again citing possible violations of citizen's civil rights. According to the Patch, New Hampshire lawmakers are concerned with citizens' "due process rights when they are arrested for other violations or their vehicles are searched."

Supporters of DUI checkpoints such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving argue that the tactic does improve public safety. They add that checkpoints do not violate civil rights because citizens are only detained briefly and strict guidelines govern what police may and may not do in connection with the checkpoints.

The current debate follows the discussion in many jurisdictions last year as to whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for people to spread the word that checkpoints are in place at a particular time and place. In May 2011, I wrote here about how several senators were pressing Apple, Google and Research In Motion to stop selling or otherwise making available smartphone apps that help drunk drivers avoid DUI checkpoints, asserting that such apps were "harmful to public safety."

In December 2011 I noted that police in Edmonton and Calgary, Canada, had begun asking the public to refrain from tweeting the locations of DUI checkpoints set up to catch drunk drivers, because they said doing so may put other motorists in danger. This position was not shared by police in Saskatoon, Canada, however, who took the opposite approach and even started alerting citizens themselves using Twitter as to when checkpoints were planned. The Saskatoon police believe that if people know police checkpoints are in place, they will think twice about drunk driving.

Tiverton, RI Criminal and DUI Defense

The Tiverton Police Department tends to remain the busiest police department in Rhode Island, in relation to their resources. While DUI arrests on Main Rd, East Rd. and Stafford Rd. are common, officers’ attention is usually more focused on serious crimes, which are frequently occurring in this area. Tiverton DUI and Criminal cases are prosecuted at the Newport County Courthouse on Thursdays, which is the day on which a representative from their solicitor’s office is present. The Tiverton Police are faced with numerous jurisdictional challenges, as they border Massachusetts to the North, and they are often times forced to pursue vehicles over the Sakonnet River Bridge into Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Tiverton Police Department was busier than usual in 2010. A recently released annual statistics report indicates that the department reached a 10-year high in arrests.

While there were decreases in
motor vehicle accidents and theft, Tiverton Police have reportedly increased arrests in every other statistical category. The report states that arrests totaled 655 in 2010, a 40 percent increase from 2009. Traffic-related citations jumped to 2,396 in 2010, or a 52 percent increase, and calls for service increased by 9 percent, to 19,132.

Total crimes against persons, which include assault, homicide and rape, increased 34 percent. Crimes against society, labeled “drugs and vice”, are up 102 percent. Police officials state that increase is a combination of breaks in investigations, more motor vehicle stops and "moving on contacts."

Being next to Massachusetts’ eighth largest city, Fall River, contributes to the overall increase in Tiverton's activity. The small town is second next to Newport for felony packages presented in
Second District Court.

Criminal Defense issues in Tiverton are best handled by an attorney familiar with the various personnel that handle these matters. Furthermore, a thorough knowledge of the local area is required in order to gauge a potential factual defense or jurisdictional challenge.

Portsmouth, RI Criminal - DUI Defense

Criminal DUI investigations are more than common within and around the region of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The area is characterized by narrow and dangerous roads, primarily consisting of East Main Road and West Main Road. Of course, the area serves as a major source of traffic to and from Newport, which tends to increase the number of potentially impaired motorists through the area. The State Police do not typically record their investigations either at the scene or back at the barracks. Although they enjoy the capability, the equipment is not generally utilized. Also, the general area presents unique difficulties in terms of finding appropriate places for suspects to perform standardized field sobriety testing. Some cases may involve situations where suspects are requested to perform standardized testing on a bridge or near the flow of oncoming traffic. This area also presents jurisdictional challenges for police, as they are often required to pursue a suspect into a neighboring town – Bristol, Tiverton or Middletown, Rhode Island.

In 2010, the Portsmouth Barracks fell under the command of Lieutenant Frank D. Sullivan III, a twenty-four (24) year veteran of the
Rhode Island State Police. The Portsmouth Barracks is located at 838 East Main Road in the Town of Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Barracks complement is comprised of; one (1) Lieutenant, one (1) Sergeant, two (2) Corporals and ten (10) Troopers. Vehicles assigned to the Barracks included fourteen (14) marked cruisers. These vehicles are utilized to patrol the combined jurisdiction of approximately 359 square miles.

The Portsmouth Patrols provide service in their support and patrol of the Pell Bridge, Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge, Mount Hope Bridge and Sakonnet Bridge.

During the 2010 calendar year, members of the Portsmouth Barracks issued 4,331 citations, arrested 323 subjects, handled 139 incidents and responded to 112 accidents. Patrol members arrested 121 subjects for Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol/Drugs and/or Refusal to Submit to a Chemical Test. These numbers are exclusive of arrests made by the
Portsmouth Town Police, which also constitute a high number of arrests. Having a local knowledge of the procedures and practices of this locality is essential to effectively defending the client’s legal interests.

Jamestown, Rhode Island DUI - DWI - OWI

Since the creation of a permanent police department in 1958, the Jamestown Police Department has grown to a size of 14 sworn officers and 5 civilian employees. In addition, there is also a harbormaster, an assistant harbormaster, a parking enforcement officer, and an animal control officer that work out of the police station. However, these are all civilian positions.

Arrests for drunk driving account for approximately 25% of all arrests made by the
Jamestown Police Department. The number of drunken driving arrests and alcohol related motor vehicle accidents has continued to rise over the past several years.

Jamestown Police Department aggressively enforces the driving under the influence (DUI) and speed laws throughout the year with special attention to the holiday seasons as part of a statewide effort to reduce deaths and injuries on Rhode Island roads. Police agencies from across Rhode Island are out in force as part of "Operation Blue Riptide", an enforcement and education campaign funded by the State's Highway Safety Office and the New England Region of the National Traffic Safety Administration. The Jamestown Police Department works in partnership with State Police and police from neighboring cities & towns to enforce the DUI and speed laws across jurisdictions.

Throughout the year additional patrols will be assigned exclusively to enforce
DUI and speed laws in the Town of Jamestown. As such, Jamestown makes a significant number of DUI arrests considering the small population that lives on the Island. Most of the Town’s DUI arrests tend to occur when the Island’s bars let out after 1 a.m. Nearby to this business area is where the Island’s two main roads intersect, and it is also the area where most DUI investigations commence. At this time of the night a vehicle will often times be stopped initially for a laned roadway violation or a speeding violation. Of course, neither of these violations by themselves will give rise to an inference that the operator is incapable of safely operating the motor vehicle.

In the vehicle in motion phase, the police officer will observe an individual’s driving behavior, and look for clues claimed by NHTSA to be consistent with impaired driving. In
DWI or DUI cases, these driving behaviors include swerving, driving erratically, driving on the wrong side of the road or driving with the lights off.

DWI or DUI investigations, the personal contact phase of the investigation takes place after the police officer has already made the decision to stop an individual and initiate an investigation. This phase includes face-to-face contact with the driver. During this phase, the police officer will attempt to gauge whether the driver is sober based on his appearance, behavior, smell, balance, coordination, his manner of speaking, and any statements he may make. DWI and DUI criminal defense lawyers know that this phase of the investigation can lead to unreliable conclusions. After all, the police officer has not previously met the suspect, so it is questionable whether he can determine what the suspect is “normally” like.

In any event, in
DUI or DWI investigations, if the police officer believes that the suspect is intoxicated after phase one and phase two are completed, he may then move into phase three, where the police officer will administer standardized field sobriety tests. The tests outlined by NHTSA are standardized, meaning that they are conducted the same in all DWI or DUI investigations in Jamestown and anywhere. The three standardized tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand, and the walk and turn. DWI and DUI criminal defense attorney also know that problems in the administration of the test are common. A surprising number of officers do not follow the guidelines set out by NHTSA.

DWI and DUI law can be specialized and it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a DWI or DUI in Newport County. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to aggressively challenge each phase of the police’s investigation, with the goal of achieving the best possible result in your case.

Middletown, Rhode Island DUI - DWI - OWI

The Middletown Police Department makes DUI enforcement and roadway patrol priorities for this town of 18,000 residents. Besides the typical criminal and complaint investigations, traffic enforcement and accident reports, the Middletown Police Department serves the community by providing Animal Control, VIN checks, a Child Identification Program, Child Safety Seat Installation assistance, Citizens Police Academy, Community Policing, a local D.A.R.E school program chapter, Elderly Advocacy, Fingerprinting services, Vacant House Check services, Identity Theft prevention services and provides patrol car escort details as well as funeral escorts. The Harbor Master department also falls under the jurisdiction of the Middletown Police Department.

Middletown Police Department makes more arrests for DUI than any other police department in Newport County. Therefore, it is essential to have an intimate knowledge of the roads and areas where most of these arrests occur. Bordered by Newport and Portsmouth on either side, DUI arrests in Middletown can raise issues concerning extra-territorial jurisdiction if the law enforcement officer encroaches into another municipality. Middletown, Rhode Island police officers will often times utilize the services of a Justice of the Peace to arraign DUI suspects after hours. This procedure can avail the suspect of an opportunity to obtain an independent physical examination by a physician of his/her own choosing.

Many DUI arrests in Middletown tend to occur on
West Main Road, which is a heavily travelled four-lane highway with numerous retail establishments at every intersection. It may prove difficult for police officers to properly administer the standardized field sobriety tests in these areas and passing traffic can distract and interfere with the suspect’s ability to perform certain divided attention tests. In addition, Middletown has a fairly new police station, and it is necessary that a defense attorney has an idea of the layout. These issues can affect the confidentiality of phone calls and the ability of the police to have the suspect perform field sobriety tests in the station. While some police departments have ceased using in-station video surveillance, it is available and utilized in Middletown, which can often shed light on issues involving observations of the suspect.

The Middletown police force tends to be very young, but they are a well-trained and highly supervised group of officers. As a result, very few cases involving the Middletown Police actually end up at the trial stage, and the officers are generally not accustomed to testifying on a regular basis. For a
DUI attorney familiar with Middletown, RI DUI arrests call Kevin Hagan, Esq. for a free consult today.

For more information about the Middletown Police Department, please visit:

Fax: (401) 846-0175

Hours: General business hours, 8am - 4pm. Other hours for certain programs may vary by service. For more details, please visit http://www.middletownri.com/documents/mpd/Services.php

Handicap Accessible: Main entrance from parking lot.

Founding Date: 1/1/1922

Services: Anonymous Tip Line: (401) 842-6516 A full listing of services is available at: http://www.middletownri.com/documents/mpd/Services.php

Parking: Free lot

Public restrooms: Yes

Wi-Fi: None

Auxiliary: Yes

Bureaus: Detective, Traffic