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Are drunk driving checkpoints legal in New York?

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Dui

The police in New York are always on the lookout for drunk drivers and will quickly arrest anyone that they suspect of driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses. Those accused of impaired driving could lose some of their money to fees, their driver’s license to suspension and their freedom due to their sentence for a DWI charge.

Often, DWI arrests occur after a traffic collision or as the result of one-on-one enforcement efforts. Police officers often test everyone involved in a collision for chemical intoxication and will also screen drivers for signs of impairment during one-on-one traffic stops.

Police departments attempting to curtail drunk driving would potentially be able to stop many more people much more quickly if they conduct sobriety roadblocks or DWI checkpoints. Are these large-scale enforcement tools legal in New York?

DWI checkpoints are legal but are subject to multiple requirements

The drivers in New York accused of a DWI cannot get the courts to throw out the charges against them by claiming that the checkpoint inherently violated their rights. However, they can establish that the checkpoint was inappropriate or run improperly as part of their defense.

The state typically needs to prove that there is a valid reason for the checkpoint and provide paperwork about the requirements for the checkpoint to the officers involved. There are also limits to how long an officer can keep someone stopped at a checkpoint unless what they uncovered during that stop creates the probable cause necessary to arrest the driver.

Those facing DWI charges because of a sobriety checkpoint may want to review the paperwork of the police departments involved, as mistakes with the paperwork could provide a solid technical defense.

There are other defense options available

Someone arrested at a DWI checkpoint could have several defense strategies available to them. A police officer who uses the same test unit multiple times in a short window of time may have failed to notice that the device was no longer properly calibrated, for example. Drivers could also present medical explanations that make it clear that alcohol was not necessarily the reason they performed poorly on a field sobriety test or failed a chemical breath test.

Learning more about the laws in New York can help you decide the best response to upcoming DWI charges.