DWI Checkpoints in New York: Legal Operations and Potential Legal Challenges

Whether it’s a weekend or a holiday, police departments throughout New York set up DWI checkpoints to arrest suspected drunk drivers and keep the roads safe for others. When you encounter a DWI checkpoint, you may be briefly detained by law enforcement officials, questioned, and perhaps asked to take a series of field sobriety tests. Although DWI checkpoints are legal in New York, the police must follow strict rules to legally operate them. If a police officer at a DWI checkpoint violates the law or a driver’s legal rights, any DWI charge stemming from a sobriety checkpoint arrest will most likely be dismissed.The following are several guidelines that police officers must follow while conducting a DWI checkpoint:

  • There must be a clear purpose why a DWI checkpoint is set up (e.g. the increase of alcohol consumption over the weekend or during the holiday season).
  • The location of the DWI checkpoints must be announced in advance, either through the police department’s website, the local news, or the local newspaper.
  • There must be warning signs posted well before drivers come across a DWI checkpoint and sufficient lighting is required.
  • Police officers must use a certain method to stop motorists (e.g. every third or fifth vehicle) and are not allowed to profile motorists (e.g. based on race or the vehicle’s condition).
  • A police supervisor must be at the checkpoint to supervise the operation.
  • Police officers are prohibited from holding a motorist for an unreasonable amount of time.
  • Police officers cannot intrude on a driver’s privacy to an “impermissible degree.”

If you were arrested at a DWI checkpoint in New York but the police violated your rights, our legal team at O’Brien & Eggleston PLLC can review your case, gather evidence, and ask the judge to dismiss the charge. If the judge determines your rights were violated, your case will be dismissed.

For more information about DWI checkpoints in Albany, contact us today at 518-391-2369 and schedule a free consultation.

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