Garden State DWI Defense Update: Sobriety Roadblocks Quite Common in New Jersey, Elsewhere

To borrow a turn of phrase, it seems that one can’t swing a cat with hitting a drunken driving checkpoint here in New Jersey. With apologies to cat lovers everywhere, the point we’d like to make is that state and local law enforcement agencies do appear to use sobriety roadblocks very frequently here in the Garden State. As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, I and my legal defense team have represented numerous clients who had the unlucky experience of being arrested for DWI or Drug DUI (including charges of marijuana possession or use) at one of the state’s many drunk driving roadblocks over the years.

Despite the fact that state and municipal police departments are legally required to publicly announce in advance any sobriety checkpoint, dozens of drivers every year end up being charged with driving while intoxicated after being flagged off the road into a roadblock of or kind or another. Once under the scrutiny of patrolmen on duty, motorists who have maybe had a drink or two prior to getting behind the wheel of their car could easily be singled out for field sobriety testing and perhaps a breathalyzer test.

If one had any doubt as to the relatively commonplace occurrence of these drunk driving netting operations, the news pages are full of examples. We ran across several not long ago. They included one such roadblock in the Cherry Hill area, another operated in the East Hampton and Sag Harbor area, as well as a third in the vicinity of Bridgeton, NJ. The results, for those people found to be impaired by alcohol, prescription drugs (drug DUI) and illegal controlled substances (CDS) are usually an arrest or summons for a future court hearing.

Cherry Hill Drunk Driving Checkpoint
Like many municipalities across Jersey, police officers in Camden, Bergen, Monmouth and Ocean counties, among others, are constantly on the alert for drivers who may be drunk behind the wheel. Cherry Hill has run sobriety roadblocks in the past and the technique allows officers to have the potentially drunken motorists come directly to them, instead of having to hunt those individuals down.

According to reports, Cherry Hill hosted a DWI checkpoint on at least one weekend this past summer, and will be continuing the practice going into the fall. Using banners and exterior video display signs, authorities hope to drum up awareness while also netting some unwitting drunk drivers in the process.

Bridgeton Police Operate Mid-Summer DWI Checkpoints
As part of a state-wide push to get drunken motorists off the road, Bridgeton officials ran yet another DWI-DUI checkpoint over the Labor Day holiday. As part of summer’s last hoorah, party-goer and weekend vacationers alike were reminded of the state’s anti-DWI campaign entitled “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” The effort included saturation patrols on major thoroughfares as well as the now-ubiquitous drunk driving checkpoint.

According to news reports, the Bridgeton area has seen the arrest of more than 60 motorists for DWI, yet has not had an alcohol-related traffic fatality since 2007 or so. As part of the municipality’s effort, authorities have used “designated enforcement,” which had netted the city nearly the same number of drunk driving arrests in about half the time as the previous year. No mention was made of how many of those arrests resulted in convictions for drunken driving.

Bridgeton PD to set up DWI checkpoints as part of campaign, NJ.com, July 31, 2012
Cherry Hill police to operate DWI checkpoints, NJ.com, July 12, 2012