01 Jul Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint
In the state of New York, police are allowed to set up roadblocks at strategic locations in order to identify people who are driving under the influence of alcohol. For the most part, these “sobriety checkpoints” are established on holidays and at times that drinking and driving are most common, and they serve two purposes: to deter would-be drunk drivers and to catch people who are engaged in drunk driving.
Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in New York?
The Supreme Court determined that sobriety checkpoints are legal under some conditions, and they found that preventing people from being injured by drunk drivers outweighed the risks of violating people’s rights.
In New York, our courts require police to prove that the purpose of the checkpoint is DUI-related. The police can’t intrude on motorists’ privacy unreasonably, and it must be maintained the same way as other DUI checkpoints across the state. Finally, a DUI checkpoint has to allow for a number of safety precautions, including things such as fair warning of its existence and unmistakable lighting.
What Are Your Rights at a Sobriety Checkpoint?
Police can require you to submit to a breath test if they stop you at a sobriety checkpoint. A breath test measures the concentration of alcohol in your breath, but they are not always accurate. In some cases, they provide a bad reading due to user error, such as when a police officer isn’t properly trained on their use; in other cases, the machine malfunctions and isn’t reading alcohol concentrations properly.
You have the right to refuse a breath alcohol test, but keep in mind that if you do, you will be arrested and subjected to a blood test once you are in jail.
The best thing you can do if you’re stopped at one of New York’s sobriety checkpoints is to call your attorney immediately. Your lawyer will be able to look into the legality of your arrest (or ticket) and will attempt to determine whether the DWI/DUI testing equipment was defective or improperly used.