Essentially everyone in New York knows that drinking and driving is a mistake. After all, not only may a drunk driving accident result in serious injuries or death, but you also face serious legal penalties for driving while impaired. Furthermore, you may encounter a variety of life consequences following a DWI charge.
Law enforcement agencies in the Empire State regularly patrol stretches of roadways for intoxicated motorists. They also occasionally erect roadblocks to check the sobriety of passing drivers. To comply with state law, though, these checkpoints must meet a few legal criteria. Here are five components of a legal DWI roadblock in New York:
Before setting up a DWI checkpoint, officers must inform the public. Officials must also clarify the purpose of the roadblock. Press releases, news reports and official tweets usually get the job done.
Roadblocks are inherently inconvenient. That is, before passing through one, you usually must stop and speak with officers. Still, sobriety checkpoints must not be overly intrusive. They must also only last long enough for officers to determine whether your blood alcohol concentration is likely above New York’s 0.08% legal limit.
Disruptions in the normal flow of traffic can be dangerous for motorists, passengers, pedestrians and others. Accordingly, officers must take some safety precautions when erecting a sobriety checkpoint. Among other things, officers should have sufficient lighting, adequate warning signs and a safe place for motorists to stop.
At a sobriety checkpoint, officers must have a neutral way of stopping vehicles. For example, they must stop every car that approaches or choose a pattern. Said differently, they may not target specific drivers.
Finally, a supervising officer must be present at any legal DWI checkpoint. This individual should be able to keep other officers from violating both the law and your fundamental rights.
If you are facing DWI charges after stopping at a sobriety checkpoint, you may want to investigate whether officers complied with legal requirements. If they did not, you may have a valid defense.