Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints are temporary roadblocks on public streets or roadways designed to snare drunk drivers and cite others for violations of the vehicle code. The courts have established strict guidelines to govern the operation of sobriety checkpoints. Anyone arrested for DUI / DWI at a sobriety checkpoint should contact an experienced New York drunk driving attorney to determine whether the checkpoint was operated according to these guidelines.

Supreme Court has ruled that the primary purpose of a sobriety check point is not to discover evidence of crime or to make arrests of drunk drivers, but to promote public safety by deterring intoxicated persons from driving and endangering the public. Thus, a sobriety checkpoint roadblock serves a regulatory purpose and is not considered a criminal investigation roadblock, and no warrant is required.

The United States Supreme Court has held that a vehicle stopped at a roadblock is a seizure under the Fourth Amendment. A Fourth Amendment seizure occurs “when there is a governmental termination of freedom of movement through means intentionally applied.”

The question then becomes whether such seizures are reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. It has been determined that not all roadblocks violate the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. In order to determine whether there has been a Fourth Amendment violation, courts apply a balancing test which weighs the government’s interests against the intrusiveness of the detention on the individual.

In order to determine whether a sobriety checkpoint was operated within established guidelines, an experienced DUI / DWI lawyer will evaluate every aspect of the checkpoint to determine whether it meets the established guidelines. If the checkpoint was not operated properly, the attorney will argue that any evidence gathered during the stop was improperly obtained, and should be suppressed.

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