Are DWI Checkpoints Illegal In New York?

Last updated on March 15, 2023

We know that driving in New York state can be stressful, especially since police on Long Island closely monitor traffic violations. Law enforcement is particularly strict when it comes to drunk driving, and the consequences and cost of being convicted of a DWI can be life-changing. Suppose you are stopped on the road in NY at an intoxication checkpoint. In that case, it is important to know whether the officer had the right to set up the DWI checkpoint, to begin with, if the checkpoint was conducted legally, and what you can legally be compelled to do in this situation. 

If you’ve been stopped at a police checkpoint, questioned, and arrested for drunk driving, consider seeking the help of Jason Bassett, a highly regarded Long Island DUI/DWI attorney. For many years, Bassett has been providing assertive legal representation to individuals who have been charged with drunk driving offenses. At the Law Offices of Jason Bassett, our team of experienced attorneys may be able to assist you in constructing a robust legal defense against your charges. To schedule a free consultation, please call us at (631) 259-6060.

What Is A DWI Checkpoint?

A DWI checkpoint sometimes called a “sobriety checkpoint” or “DUI roadblock”, is a location set up by law enforcement to stop vehicles, make observations, and test drivers for alcohol or drug intoxication.

Police officers are supposed to follow past legal decisions when it comes to the specific sequence or pattern they should use to stop the vehicles. If they aren’t going to stop every vehicle, they need to come up with some other impartial basis such as stopping every third car. The police officers conducting these сhecks can not change or alter the pattern on the spot.

New York DWI lawyer

The DUI checkpoint should have safety precautions so that drivers can stop or drive through the checkpoint safely. There should be signs informing drivers about the presence of the checkpoint posted along the road leading up to it.

If you are stopped and arrested at a checkpoint that the legal requirements imposed upon law enforcement, your DUI lawyer will be able to challenge whether the officer had the right to detain you and possibly have evidence against you ruled inadmissible in court.

Can Police Legally Set Up A DUI Checkpoint In New York?

In New York, it is perfectly legal for police departments to set up sobriety checkpoints where officers may stop and check drivers for a short time to find out if they are driving in a state of intoxication. However, these checkpoints have to conform to the legal limitations placed upon them and must be conducted in a fair and impartial manner.

Under New York law, DUI checkpoints are only legal so long as the police do the following:

  • Stop drivers at the checkpoint only for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Set up proper safety precautions including adequate lighting and fair warning of the checkpoint’s existence.
  • Use a predetermined random formula or pattern for which cars to stop.

Do I have Legal Rights at DUI Checkpoints?

Motorists possess certain rights concerning DUI checkpoints. These checkpoints are a lawful and effective law enforcement technique in which officers can use roadblocks to stop drivers and apprehend drunk drivers, ensuring the safety of all individuals on the road. However, police officers are constrained in their ability to stop vehicles for sobriety checks. They are required to follow stringent procedural protocols as defined by the New York courts, ensuring that they do not violate motorists’ rights. It is important that drivers understand their constitutional rights in relation to DUI checkpoints to safeguard their rights.

Police officers are not authorized to search a person or vehicle without consent from the driver or probable cause. If they conduct an unauthorized or unconsented search, they infringe on the driver’s rights. Drivers who turn around and avoid this kind of roadblock provide police officers with probable cause to stop them, particularly if they make an illegal traffic maneuver, such as an improper U-turn. In this scenario, a police officer will likely detain the driver.

Drivers are legally obligated to provide their license and registration when requested. Police officers must adhere to a random algorithm or system when halting vehicles at a checkpoint. Police officers will pose various questions to motorists to verify whether they are driving while intoxicated. They may also ask drivers to take a field sobriety test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Motorists can decline to respond to law enforcement’s inquiries or undergo a chemical examination. Additionally, they have the right to remain quiet until they receive legal counsel. However, drivers who decline to take a chemical test can have their license suspended due to implied consent laws in New York. New York courts consider the probable cause to safeguard drivers’ constitutional rights. If stopped at a checkpoint, drivers are advised to remember and exercise their rights.

What Should You Do If You Are Arrested At A DWI Checkpoint?

If set up and conducted properly, sobriety checkpoints can be an effective way to ensure safer roads and eliminate intoxicated driving. However, police cannot trample all over your rights in the name of public safety and must carefully follow the laws governing checkpoints.

If you are looking for the best defense strategy after being detained at a DUI checkpoint on suspicion of drunk driving, we are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation with Jason Bassett, a Top Rated New York DWI lawyer.

Free Consultation

If you didnt find an answer

Free consultation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Call Now Button