As a Clackamas County DUII attorney, I have noticed the increased use of certain tactics by police agencies to detect and arrest DUII drivers. Many of these tactics are funded by the federal government. For many years the federal government has offered block grants to individual states to be used as the states see fit to enforce DUII laws. Many states use the dollars to pay the cost of road blocks used as “sobriety checkpoints” to detect drunk drivers. Under the Oregon Constitution, however, roadblocks are not permitted because they constitute an unlawful detention without probable cause of wrongdoing.
The Oregon solution to this problem is to use the federal money to finance “saturation patrols.” These patrols work one of two ways. On days or weekends that are popular for drinking, like New Years Eve or Super Bowl Sunday, police agencies will put as many police officers as they can on the street and those officers actively look for anyone who appears to be a DUII driver. When federal funds allow, police agencies will combine forces and flood particular areas with patrol vehicles on weekend nights without regard to whether it is a “drinking” holiday. During these patrols, an Oregon City policeman may travel out of his jurisdiction and patrol areas in Milwaukie. Generally, the focus of these patrols is between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. and are the most aggressive during the hours that bars are closing.
The most common tactic of a saturation patrol is to pull over every car they can for the most minor traffic violation. Using traffic violations as a “pretext” for investigating a DUII is allowed in Oregon. The common pretext violations are: license plate lights that are out; broken tail lights, tinted windows; and cracked windshields. Experienced DUII patrol officers have their own thoughts about certain infractions that are indicators that someone is under the influence, the most common of which is driving at night without headlights. These officers believe that a not noticing that one’s headlights are off is a sign of impairment.
As a DUII Attorney practicing in Oregon City and Gresham, I caution all of my clients to avoid driving after drinking at all times. If a person does drink and drive, the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. are the absolute worst times to be driving after having consumed alcohol. Even if a person is not driving poorly, they can be pulled over for the numerous equipment violations listed in the Oregon Vehicle Code.
Source: JFO Rourke Blog