Whether you live or work here in Monmouth, NJ, or in Hudson, Bergen or Atlantic County, as a New Jersey motorist you have no doubt seen or been directed into one of the frequent police checkpoints used to catch drivers who may be operating their car or truck under the influence of alcohol (beer, wine, or hard liquor), prescription medication or even illicit drugs or other controlled dangerous substances (CDS) such as marijuana or cocaine.
Each of these sobriety roadblocks, also known as DWI checkpoints, is designed to bring drivers in close contact with local, municipal and state police officers so that they can determine if a driver has been drinking alcohol or ingesting some type of substance that may cause impaired driving. Upon being identified as possibly impaired by some substance, the patrolman in charge will most likely as the driver to step out of his or her vehicle in order to perform one or more standardized field sobriety tests.
Although the number and order of the standard field sobriety tests given during a DWI traffic stop tend to vary depending on the police officer and the particular situation in which the driver may find himself, the following is list of the tests that are usually used to some extent or antoher:
— Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
— Touching a finger to one’s nose
— Balancing one leg
— Walking heal-to-toe
— Reciting the ABCs
The most common of these tests is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, during which the officer attempts checks to see how smoothly an individual’s eyes are tracking a finger or pen in front of his or her face. A knowledgeable attorney knows to do a thorough analysis of the testing done by the arresting officer in order to determine whether or not the field sobriety tests were administered properly.
Results of these field sobriety tests, plus other evidence collected by the officer in charge, are recorded in the official police report, as well as the “Drinking and Driving Report,” both of which are then filed with the driver’s arrest records.
Looking at a recent news article, we are reminded that these DWI roadblocks do, in fact, result in arrests for DWI, drug DUI, and other violations not necessarily related to driving under the influence. According to reports, a sobriety checkpoint operated on both a Friday and Saturday night in July by the Elmwood Park Police Department, lasting from 11:30pm to 3:30am. Both of these four-hour long roadblocks resulted in 219 citations being written, with only 18 of those issued to individuals who were charged with some kind of drinking and driving offense.
Based on police records, these checkpoints were located along a stretch of westbound Rte 46 near Boulevard. Of the 18 drivers arrested and charged with DWI, a number of them were under the legal drinking age, while one was issued a summons for refusing to submit to a breath test, and another was arrested for aggravated assault on a police officer as well as resisting arrest.
Police checkpoints nets 18 DWI arrests, NorthJersey.com, August 4, 2011