Articles Posted in Sobriety Checkpoints

As Garden State DWI and drug DUI defense lawyers, my colleagues and I often remind potential clients that when a police officer makes a traffic stop the action itself can be construed as a “seizure” within the legal definitions stated in the Fourth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution. As most every legal professional knows, over the years there has existed some doubt as to what truly constituted a valid traffic stop. But these doubts were essentially wiped away following the landmark Supreme Court decision of Delaware v. Prouse.

One of the more popular reasons, at least among police officers, for stopping many a motorist is the common moving violation known as failure to maintain one’s lane; this justification for making a routine traffic stop is second only to pulling a car or truck over based on one of the more typical vehicle equipment infractions, such as a burned out headlight or taillight (in fact, if you find yourself driving a vehicle with a burned-out or broken lamp anywhere on the car or truck, be prepared to have a state trooper or municipal patrolman stop you on the roadside).

When it comes to common moving violations – mainly, straying from one’s lane — drivers who find themselves having a difficult time staying within the lane markers during the evening hours will more than likely end up having a conversation with a law enforcement officer on the shoulder of the roadway. If it’s simply a matter of fatigue, a motorist may simply get a warning; but if that individual has consumed any alcohol recently, much less admits to the fact, complications will likely arise.
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Being flagged down at an unexpected police roadblock can be unnerving enough, even if one hasn’t spent a night out on the town. As any motorist in the Garden State knows, however, there are few easy solutions to being caught driving drunk when it comes to New Jersey police officers. In fact, the circumstances that can eventually lead to an arrest for DWI or drug DUI can be many and varied. One particular situation is that of the frequent sobriety roadblock, or DUI checkpoint. Motorists who find themselves in such a scary scenario may appreciate the following insights from our expert DWI defense staff.

As New Jersey defense attorneys specializing in drunken driving cases, my colleagues and I take pride in serving residents of Bergen, Essex, Ocean and Monmouth counties, among many others. We believe whole heartedly that knowledge is power; when a driver understands what he or she may be facing in terms of drunk driving charges and possible penalties, that information can help a person better make an informed and confident decision.

Whatever the cause or events leading up to a drunken driving arrest, being stopped by a New Jersey state trooper or local cop is usually the first of many steps that can eventually lead to a potentially costly and drunken driving conviction. Whether one is accused of excessive alcohol consumption or an unexpected reaction to some doctor-prescribed medication (drug DUI), knowing what typically awaits a motorist at a sobriety roadblock can perhaps ease his or her anxiety and calm that person’s nerves.
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Considering the volume of DWI and DUI arrests that are carried out every month in the Garden State, most every drunk driving defense attorney has likely represented at least a few clients who have been charged with driving while impaired after running afoul of the police at a local DWI checkpoint. Most months, all around the state, one might expect a certain number of these DUI roadblocks in operation on the weekends and during high-traffic holidays. This makes it all the more certain that, over time, more motorists will be arrested at one of the late-night roadblocks and hit with a DWI summons.

The fact that state and local law enforcement agencies are legally obliged to make public the locations and operating times of these so-called sobriety checkpoints could lead many people to assume that it is relatively easy to avoid being stopped at one of these roadblocks, whether one is driving with some amount of alcohol in one’s system or not; however, it is also very easy to overlook the relatively brief announcements that appear prior to the erection of a DWI-DUI checkpoint.

According to New Jersey legal statutes, the police are limited as to the locations and operation of a sobriety roadblock. Quite simply, the authorities cannot place a checkpoint anywhere they choose; it must be located in an area that has a demonstrated history of prior incidents of drunken driving.
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Well it is true that here in New Jersey, many drivers are all too familiar with the seemingly ever-present police patrols on our highways and surface streets. And while few law-abiding citizens would complain about the benefits of having a well-policed and safe society, from the standpoint of potential erroneous drunken driving arrests or drug DUI charges based on insufficient or improperly gained evidence, many people might be thinking enough is enough.

The fact of the matter is that New Jersey law enforcement authorities frequently receive funding for anti-drunken driving campaigns when certain seasons roll around. As motorists ourselves, we are happy to have safer roadways, but this sometimes comes at the expense of innocent individuals accused of an illegal act such as driving while intoxicated or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by prescription medications.

As Garden State DWI and drug DUI defense attorneys, my legal team understands how easily a motorist can end up being stopped for a simple traffic infraction only to find herself being taken to police headquarters for a breath test and possible incarceration for the night. Any time a motorist is stopped by a police officer, the stress of such an event can cause nervousness and an overall unsettled feeling. It’s no surprise that many people are suspected of being intoxicated simply on the basis of their nervous mannerisms during such a potentially intimidating experience.
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There is no dispute that the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays are a time of great celebration for families, friends and neighbors all across the Garden State. Yet, even those in the know are sometimes surprised by the number of New Jersey motorists who find themselves on the receiving end of a drunk driving summons at this time of the year.

To be quite frank, when it comes to drinking and driving, state and local police officers will hardly be in a festive mood if they suspect you’ve been imbibing a little too much spiked eggnog or other intoxicating beverage. Whether one is celebrating with relatives, good friends or coworkers, if you get pulled over after having a drink or two, you may find that the patrolman in charge believes that it is better to give than to receive. Just remember few will envy your gift of a DWI-DUI summons this holiday season.

All levity aside, being arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated can result in expensive and potentially disruptive penalties. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines, fees and assessments can be accompanied by license suspension, and even jail time depending on the circumstances; and the odds of facing such an outcome can be increased during certain times of the year when the frequency of anti-drunk driving saturation patrols and DWI-DUI sobriety roadblocks are on the rise.
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Any time a driver is pulled over by the police, the episode can certainly be an unsettling and even an intimidating experience to the individual behind the wheel. The mere presence of a patrolman at one’s driver’s side window can result in a person looking nervous and perhaps even acting out of character. Becoming flustered in front of a law enforcement officer, especially for the average law-abiding citizen, is not unheard of.

Because the typical driver has on only rare occasions the chance to interaction with an authority figure such as a municipal cop or state trooper, there can be a range of potential explanations for why a driver appears to be anxious, confused or disturbed during a traffic stop; espesically one that may be rapidly turning into a potential drunken driving stop. As DWI-DUI defense attorneys, we know that certain mannerisms coupled with other, so-called evidence of alcohol consumption can easily lead to a DWI arrest.

As New Jersey drunk driving attorneys and experienced trial lawyers, my colleagues and I know just how quickly things can go south for an individual who may have had a drink or two before heading home from a restaurant or friend’s home. Once stopped for a traffic violation, a driver may find himself accused of driving under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, or occasionally drug DUI if that individual is taking doctor-prescribed medications that may have interacted unexpectedly with each other.
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Success can be measured in many ways. For the police it can often mean the total number of traffic tickets or felony arrests over a month’s time. When it comes to sobriety checkpoints, we often read of successful efforts resulting in drunken driving and drug DUI charges against motorists who were pulled over at any number of roadside DWI checkpoints. The result, for many of the drivers served summonses at these locations may be fines or even jail time, depending on their particular circumstances.

As New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyers, we have seen numerous individuals who have been stopped at one of these late evening police roadblocks only to be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Despite concerns over the legality of sobriety checkpoints, the practice continues all across the Garden State.

Known variously as DUI checkpoints, drunk driving roadblocks or DWI checkpoints, the purpose of these so-called sobriety roadblocks is primarily to deter motorists from driving their vehicles vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication, or an illegal substances (also known as a controlled dangerous substance or CDS).
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Anyone who follows the evening news or reads the local police blotters understands that alcohol and motor vehicles are never a good mix in the eyes of the police and our court system. Whether a driver has just left a celebratory party with close relatives, driving away from a bar after having a drink with friends, or returning home with one’s spouse after an evening of dinner and dancing, if alcohol is in your system when a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation, there may be consequences.

Of course, we see these kinds of scenarios play out every day all around our state. In fact, as New Jersey DWI-DUI defense attorneys, we are never surprised at the frequency and volume of drunk driving arrests that occur in the Garden State on a monthly basis. Whether in the Monmouth County area, over in Hudson or Sussex counties, or down in Cape May County, the likelihood of being arrested and charged with an alcohol-related offense is high if the driver himself is too.

Now, most people would tend to assume that motorists get pulled over for being drunk, but the fact of the matter is the police can only stop a vehicle if they observe a traffic violation take place. Roving police patrols, especially prevalent during certain holidays, are usually looking for telltale signs of inebriation, though simply assuming a driver is drunk is not sufficient to justify a traffic stop on its own. But once a moving violation or vehicle equipment violation has been spotted, the odds of being stopped go up considerably.
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Having defended a great many individuals accused of DWI throughout the years, the attorneys at our firm realize that nobody is immune to what is often referred to as the “long arm of the law.” Especially where traffic enforcement is concerned, patrolmen are usually quite vigilant when it comes to spotting erratic driving behavior on Garden State roadways. And if a motorist is found to have been drunk behind the wheel, the law does not discriminate — fines, court fees and increased auto insurance premiums are just a few of the penalties that await someone unlucky enough to be found guilty of DWI.

And, as New Jersey drunken driving defense lawyers, we are well aware that both young and old are equally likely to be arrested for drunk driving. Although older drivers may have more experience behind the wheel, the intoxicating effects of alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), such as marijuana, cocaine or meth, can make even the most qualified driver less than effective on the road.

With many kinds of traffic offenses, usually the more minor ones however, a motorist’s age and driving history can work in his or her favor. Unfortunately, with the focus on eliminating the dangers of drinking and driving from New Jersey roads, courts are unlikely to give an older, seasoned driver a “pass” when it comes to a drunk driving arrest. A good driving record can be a plus, but depending on the circumstances, penalties both in terms of monetary fines and jail time can still be a significant possibility.
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Here in the Garden State, DWI checkpoints (or drunk driving roadblocks, by which they are also referred) are a common tool used by police departments to help decrease the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents, as well as to signal to drivers that drunk driving is in no way being tolerated any more. That said, it is still rather confusing to the general public regarding the how and why of these seemingly invasive means of generating DWI arrests.

Because the U.S. Constitution protects the public from unreasonable search and seizure, many trial lawyers find the use of sobriety roadblocks and DWI checkpoints somewhat of an affront to the basic rights afforded citizens by the Bill of Rights. Yet, despite the fundamental argument that motorist should be protected against unreasonable search or seizure by the police during a traffic stop, the Supreme Court has previously upheld the constitutionality of drunk driving checkpoints as a means for ensuring the public good.

As most any New Jersey driver is no doubt aware, anti-drunken driving enforcement in the Garden State is undertaken in a number of different ways depending on the season or circumstances. Enhanced roving drunk driving police patrols throughout counties like Hudson, Atlantic, Bergen and Middlesex are often employed before and during popular holidays such as July Fourth, Memorial Day and New Year’s. The use of DWI-DUI checkpoints and sobriety roadblocks is also thought to catch a percentage of motorists who may be inebriated behind the wheel.
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