New York City police often employ DWI checkpoints in areas or at times when drivers are most likely to be intoxicated. They tend to set up checkpoints more often on weekends and around holidays known for drinking, and it’s common to see them near bars and restaurants.
However, a DWI checkpoint can pop up at any point, so everyone should be aware of their rights and responsibilities if they are stopped. Read on to find out what drivers need to know.
What is a DWI Checkpoint?
A DWI Checkpoint is tactic employed by police to catch drunk drivers. Police set up road blocks to stop traffic where they conduct various tests on drivers. First, police ask a few basic questions to drivers to see if they were drinking. If impaired driving is suspected, the police may conduct a breathalyzer test or even issue a DWI charge on the spot.
Are DWI Checkpoints Legal in New York?
There’s an urban myth that has been going around for years that DWI checkpoints are not legal, when in fact, the matter has been litigated and multiple courts have upheld their constitutionality.
Drivers who try to argue that police are violating their rights when stopped at checkpoints will only appear argumentative and uncooperative, bringing greater scrutiny to themselves.
How DUI Checkpoints Can Be Faulty
While it’s a myth that all DWI checkpoints are illegal, there are certain standards they need to meet to be considered constitutional. For example, police officers must be given written plans that include guidelines for the checkpoint operation. Of course, asking to see those written plans is a great way to look uncooperative, so it’s best to avoid taking that course.
DWI checkpoints also need to follow standards for maintaining drivers’ privacy. If it seems like there has been an unfair intrusion, make note of it and bring it to the attention of an attorney later. Don’t mention it to the officer.
What to Expect at DWI Checkpoints
Checkpoints should be marked by signs, flares, or flashing lights on patrol cars so they are easy to identify.
Drivers who think they can avoid them by taking a turn right before they get there should know that the police typically have non-uniformed officers on the scene to stop drivers attempting to avoid the checkpoint. Reversing away from it, making a U-turn, or turning away at the last minute will only draw more suspicion.
Once drivers arrive at the checkpoint, they can expect a police officer to approach the window and ask for it to be lowered. Since there aren’t any obvious signs of intoxicated driving to look for while a driver is stopped, the officers will look for other indicators such as:
- The smell of alcohol
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot, watery eyes
When police notice these signs, they will pull the driver out of the lane and ask them to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. It’s never wise to refuse these tests, as police will view the choice as an admission of guilt, and there may be additional legal consequences for the refusal. Even if drivers are not convicted of a DWI, refusal to submit to sobriety testing can still result in fines and license suspensions.
What to Do After a DWI Arrest
Every case is unique. Drivers who have been arrested for DWIs at checkpoints don’t always wind up being convicted, and when they are, the consequences for the conviction can vary significantly.
The best way to minimize harm after getting pulled into a checkpoint while intoxicated is to call a DUI lawyer right away.