Fri. Feb 21st, 2020

Traffic stop regulations drafted after Court ruled sobriety checkpoint unconstitutional

Public Safety Director Aloysius Alonz told Island Times in an interview that their office is now in the process of finalizing the draft of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the conduct of sobriety checkpoint after its constitutionality was previously put into question in a court hearing earlier this year.

Senior Judge Honora Remengesau Rudimch previously ruled at a certain court hearing that the police sobriety checkpoint had violated rights under the search and seizure provision of the Constitution.

Judge Rudimch’s decision came after Chief Public Defender Dan Mizinov raised constitutional arguments regarding the traffic stop that put a Palauan man accused of driving under the influence of alcohol in legal trouble after he was stopped by the police in one of the sobriety checkpoints conducted in March this year.

In our previous report, Judge Rudimch was quoted in saying that the police had no formal written guidelines in conducting checkpoint operations but only communicated the procedures orally.

“…checkpoint procedures were communicated orally and may not necessarily have been uniformly practiced. The Court finds this troublesome. Because we are dealing with the Constitutional right of individuals to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as valid and important as the Republic’s interest in preventing driving under the influence is, without any formal protocols that are uniformly practiced to assure the intrusion is indeed minimal, the Court cannot find the check point was a reasonable seizure,” the judge said in our previous report.

Meanwhile, Director Alonz said that the sobriety checkpoint SOP draft is now on review and may be finalized this week. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)