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What are my rights at a DUI checkpoint in New York?

February 27th, 2015 • drunk driving

Many drivers feel as though DUI checkpoints infringe on their personal liberties. Some drivers feel as though they must prove themselves innocent of not driving while impaired at these roadblocks. Although sobriety checkpoints can be heavy-handed at times, the United States Supreme Court has condoned their use under specific conditions. In other words, the police have a legitimate interest in protecting public safety, but they must also observe the Bill of Rights in the process.

Arrested for a DUI? Contact Dreyer Law Offices, PLLC to seek justice and defend your rights! Free consultations! Call (845) 522-8910 today.

What Are Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint?

At a DUI checkpoint, drivers must stop and provide information to the officers at the checkpoint. When conducted, they must obey state and federal laws.

Rights at a NY DUI checkpoint:

  • Generally, the officer must have probable cause that the driver is committing a crime in order to pull them over for an arrest.
  • U.S. citizens are free from unreasonable search and seizure based on the 4th Amendment.

Note that sober checkpoints are legal even though they may intrude on individual liberties based on the 4th Amendment. Courts have ruled that police may conduct DUI checkpoints as long as:

  • The reason for the checkpoint is clearly stated
  • It does not intrude on motorists’ privacy
  • Includes safety precautions
  • Police cannot hold a driver at the checkpoint for an unreasonable amount of time
  • There must be a predetermined, random formula when it comes to stopping cars
  • Supervisors must be present and make the decision regarding the checkpoint

DUI Checkpoint Refusal

In New York, courts have decided that a motorist turning into a parking lot to avoid a sobriety checkpoint had given police sufficient probable cause to further investigate them. Conversely, New York courts have held that a driver who avoids a DUI checkpoint simply by merging onto another highway did not give sufficient probable cause to initiate an investigatory stop.

This is important because it shows that New York courts place a great deal of emphasis on the reasons for which police pull you over. Courts want to prevent police from abusing their power, but they also want police to be free to stop people who pose a legitimate risk to the health and safety of others.

Things you may refuse at a DUI checkpoint:

  • A field sobriety test
  • Answering questions until you have an attorney present
  • You may also refuse a breath test, however, your driver's license may be suspended.

Do I Have to Show My ID at a DUI Checkpoint?

If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, you may be asked several questions including your name, and for your license and registration. A refusal to produce an ID or registration can lead to complications and become an infraction. While you may legally be allowed to turn around at a DUI checkpoint, you will be asked for your ID at a DUI checkpoint.

Defend Your Rights with Dreyer Law Offices, PLLC

You should also know that police must also observe your rights after they have stopped you and began evaluating whether you are impaired. New York is considered an implied consent state. Essentially that means that by accepting your driver's license, you have consented to test your blood, urine, breath, or saliva for blood alcohol concentration testing. However, a police officer must first have probable cause to suspect that you are driving while impaired prior to administering those tests. Furthermore, police can use your refusal as evidence against you later but only if they have first given you sufficient warning that is clear and unambiguous.

As you can see, the laws surrounding roadside sobriety checkpoints can be somewhat complicated. If you are currently facing DUI charges, you should know that you have a right to challenge the evidence and testimony offered against you in court. Your attorney can evaluate the facts surrounding your traffic stop and subsequent arrest. In some cases, your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Contact Dreyer Law Offices, PLLC to schedule a consultation -- call (845) 522-8910 or contact us via online form.

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