HM was waved over at a roadside safety seat belt checkpoint last summer by a south suburban police department. One officer directed him to an area where other officers were ticketing drivers for seat belt violations. Upon running his license number through dispatch, the officer discovered that HM’s driver’s license was revoked for DUI. He was placed under arrest and given bail pending trial.
Our first line of attack was against the constitutionality of the roadside check point. We did an in-depth research based analysis of the law surrounding DUI, seat belt, and random stop checkpoints. Unfortunately our State’s higher courts have found these detention zones legal, so we refocused on trial strategy.
Upon careful analysis of the tickets written by the officer we discovered something unusual. It seemed as if the officer didn’t understand the standard points of the compass (i.e. north, south, east and west). We focused on this at trial, and as luck turned out, we were able to elicit contradictory testimony from the officer with regard to which direction HM was driving. The officer testified that HM was driving southbound when this was literally impossible! The judge found that the state had not met their burden of proof and HM was found NOT GUILTY. (This was a major win because the State’s prior offer for a plea was 6 months in the Cook Count Jail)