Checkpoint DWI in New York City
A checkpoint, in the context of a DWI case, is a place on a street or intersection
where the police have erected signs and barriers directing drivers to
stop for the purpose of evaluating the driver for any signs of impairment
by the consumption of drugs or alcohol.
Checkpoints are a brief detention but have generally been held to be constitutional
in part because the inconvenience to the driver is relatively low and
the benefit to law enforcement purposes is relatively high. Sobriety checkpoints
are legal in New York and become more common on weekend nights, holidays,
and around special events such as games and concerts. The NYPD is not
required to provide notice that a checkpoint is going to be set up.
Can I turn around and not go through the checkpoint? A: Sometimes. You
are within your rights to avoid a checkpoint as long as you can do so
without breaking a traffic law however a police officer is allowed to
pull you over if you make a clear attempt to avoid a checkpoint even if
you didn't make an illegal turn.
Do I have to cooperate during the checkpoint stop? A: You are required
to obey ordinary traffic laws and proceed through the checkpoint as directed
but you are not required to speak to the police. For example, if you are
asked if you’ve been drinking and you’re at a sobriety checkpoint
and the truthful answer to this question would be “yes,” you
are not required to answer. You can ask for a lawyer and/or remain silent.
While asking for a lawyer might make the officer suspicious, you would
have to balance this against any desire you have to be honest and/or to
avoid incriminating yourself. If you admit to drinking just prior to driving,
even if you only had 1 beer, the police will have a sufficient reasons
to investigate you further for DWI.
If I have been arrested for DWI at a checkpoint, am I facing a different
type of DWI case? Not really. The possible charges would be the same but
some of the legal work is different. An important issue in your case may
come up regarding the nature of the checkpoint, how it was being operated,
and whether there is any evidence of bad driving or intoxication above
and beyond whatever happened at the checkpoint.
Winning Checkpoint Defense
It may seem unfair that despite your good driving, a checkpoint lead to
your DWI arrest. We will fight your checkpoint arrest and any evidence
obtained during it (such as anything you said admitting to drinking).
We will also fight the checkpoint on more general grounds due to any illegal
aspect such as in how it was being operated. From there, we will fight
the DWI charges and demand full discovery to see what, if any, evidence
supports the charges against you. Police officers make mistakes, machines
break, and misunderstandings happen all the time. Prosecutors are not
infallible and can be reasoned with especially if this is your first arrest.
In short, there are possibilities in anyone's case regardless of how
bad it looks. Being stopped and arrested at a checkpoint doesn't have
to end with a conviction.
We have extensive experience in checkpoint stops. We have defended numerous
NYC DWI checkpoint cases in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. In one of
these cases, our client was being tried in front of a judge and, due to
the facts of her case, was legally presumed to be impaired, blew over
a 0.08, and even admitted having several drinks. Notwithstanding this
presumption, we won the trial on the grounds of lack of evidence beyond
a reasonable doubt.