In most cases, law enforcement personnel cannot stop motorists to check for impairment unless they have reason to believe that the suspects are, indeed, intoxicated. That means motorists who aren’t exhibiting any signs of drunk driving shouldn’t have to worry about facing DWI charges—unless, of course, they live in a state that allows sobriety checkpoints.
Sobriety checkpoints essentially give police the right to check for impairment without first having probable cause, and they’re permitted in the state of New York. That doesn’t mean, however, that the arrests that result are always warranted.
If you were charged with DWI after a sobriety checkpoint, a conviction isn’t necessarily imminent. In order for such charges to hold up in court, the officers who were conducting the checkpoint must have abided by strict guidelines.
Valid Checkpoint Requirements
For a sobriety checkpoint to be deemed valid in the state of New York, all of the following must apply:
- Checkpoints must serve a clearly stated purpose that is published in advanced;
- The checkpoint cannot violate the motorists’ reasonable right to privacy;
- Checkpoints must include adequate safety precautions, like signage and lighting;
- Officers cannot hold motorists for an unreasonable amount of time;
- Officers must use a predetermined, random formula to stop the vehicles that pass through; and
- A police supervisor must oversee the checkpoint from start to finish.
If you think your rights were violated during a sobriety checkpoint, write down everything you can remember about the incident. No detail is too small to include—and then call a criminal defense attorney. A resourceful lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to determine how best to challenge any evidence that the prosecutor has against you.
If it turns out law enforcement personnel failed to follow all state and federal mandates when conducting the checkpoint, it may be possible to get your case thrown out of court. If the checkpoint was in fact valid, a strategic attorney can help you devise another way to fight the charges.
What Are My Rights at Sobriety Checkpoints?
The next time you get stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, asserting your rights could help you achieve a more favorable outcome. For example, you may decline—politely but firmly—to answer any questions that might implicate you. You may also decline to complete field sobriety tests.
If police wish to conduct a breath test, however, refusing could result in penalties. Since New York has an implied consent law, refusing to submit to chemical testing carries a one-year license suspension. A refusal could also be used against you in court should you end up being charged with DWI anyway.
Discuss Your Case with a DWI Defense Attorney in New York
If you’re facing DWI charges following a traffic stop or sobriety checkpoint, turn to Jennifer Runfola at LoTempio P.C. Law Group. A town prosecutor for Cheektowga, she’s well-versed in the state’s penal code. Jennifer knows what it takes to challenge the evidence against her clients. Call 716-855-3761 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a DWI defense lawyer in New York.