A civil lawsuit was filed vs. Escondido Police Department for its allegedly illegal driver’s license checkpoints.
Driver’s license checkpoints, as practiced in the city of Escondido, run counter to our American ideals of freedom. This practice is a violation of our fundamental rights and we look forward to the day in court to defend against the erosion of our individual liberties, San Diego attorneys believe.
These San Diego county driver’s license checkpoints are constantly criticized by activists who call them immigration checks, for the past 6 or 7 years, criminal defense lawyers contend.
The checkpoints have since changed to include other inspections, such as vehicle registration, insurance and seatbelt checks. The checks are oftentimes also combined with San Diego DUI checkpoints.
The plaintiff, Escondido resident Rich Dudka, said he was driving on Escondido Boulevard when he was stopped at a checkpoint back on October 5, 2009.
The lawsuit said the city of Escondido did not follow California Vehicle Code, which states: “A peace officer shall not stop a vehicle for the sole reason of determining whether the driver is properly licensed.”
The lawsuit, filed in August, goes on to say: “Each of the Defendants named in this action have played a role in the unlawful stopping, inspection, towing, and impoundment of vehicles in the City of Escondido.”
“Is it public safety? Is it [a] DUI checkpoint, or is it [a] driver’s license checkpoint?”
Dudka is asking for damages, which could add up to $15 million, on behalf of all drivers subjected to the checkpoints.
Dudka’s attorney, Tomas Flores, said should his client win, the money “would be dispersed to the class of injured parties.”
City leaders have long defended the checkpoints. In April 2009, Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said the San Diego county checkpoints are for safety purposes.
“They are absolutely not immigration checkpoints. We do not have immigration at these checkpoints,” Maher argues.
Maher said after they implemented the San Diego county DUI & driver’s license checkpoints, they have seen a 36 percent drop in hit-and-run accidents since 2009.
The lawsuit states Dudka’s car was impounded, but his attorney would not say if he had a valid license when stopped.