Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal?

In New York, law enforcement officials employ several strategies to mitigate the risks of auto accidents that result from driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). One approach they utilize to promote safety on all roadways is setting up sobriety checkpoints at random locations and times. Law enforcement is rigorous when it comes to drunk driving. If you’ve been unreasonably stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, it’s in your best interest to enlist the help of a determined Rockland County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help safeguard your rights. Please continue reading to learn more about what you can legally be compelled to do at sobriety checkpoints in New York. 

What are sobriety checkpoints?

Firstly, it’s essential to understand that, like many other states, sobriety checkpoints are legal in New York. This means police officers are authorized to perform random DUI checkpoints to catch drunk drivers. However, law enforcement officials must comply with stringent procedural protocols to ensure they do not violate driver’s rights. Police officers cannot search a person or vehicle without consent or probable cause.

Generally, the officer will use a predetermined random formula or pattern to stop cars. For instance, they may choose to stop every vehicle or third car to ensure it’s fair and impartial. They can only stop drivers for a reasonable amount of time. The officer will ask a series of questions and observe your behavior to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the officer suspects an intoxicated driver, they may ask you to participate in field sobriety tests and submit to a breathalyzer.

What are my rights during a DUI checkpoint?

Fortunately, drivers possess various rights when it comes to sobriety checkpoints. In New York, all drivers must stop and provide the requested information to the officer. However, that does not mean you must answer the officer’s questions. You can exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to protect against self-incrimination.

Moreover, drivers often wonder whether they can avoid a DUI checkpoint by turning around. If you turn around without breaking traffic laws, you can avoid a DUI checkpoint. If you make an illegal traffic maneuver, such as an improper U-turn, to avoid this type of roadblock, you will provide officers with probable cause to stop you. It’s crucial to understand that turning around too close to a checkpoint can arouse suspicion.

If you’ve been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and charged with DUI, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney from the Law Office of Carl Spector, who can defend your rights and interests.