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.
Even so, the advance notice that a checkpoint will be operating along some stretch of roadway at a certain time can often be overlooked by many motorists. As a result, not only can inebriated individuals find themselves facing the police on a late night or early morning, other drivers who may also have had a drink or two prior to coming upon a checkpoint may find themselves under extreme scrutiny, sometimes to the point of being arrested for drunk driving.
Whether a breath test clears or implicates a driver will only be known once the individual has been taken into custody and held for what may seem like hours. As New Jersey DWI defense lawyers, my legal team is experienced in representing defendants who have been accused of DWI or drug DUI following an encounter at a drunken driving roadblock.
The following news items illustrate a few of the typical kinds of arrests that can take place at these late-night venues. As motorist ourselves, we welcome the promise of safer roadways, but we understand that this must be tempered by the legal use of checkpoints, as well as the proper procedural methods used by local patrolmen and state police troopers.
According to news articles, the Jackson, NJ, police department made multiple arrests at a couple DWI checkpoints this past fall. Based on police reports, the Jackson PD worked with the Ocean County prosecutor’s office during the operation of two consecutive DUI roadblocks in the township. Initially, the roadblock was located on Cedar Swamp Rd., but was subsequently moved to E. Veteran’s Hwy. Multiple officers participated in the effort, including those from Lacey, Jackson and Manchester, New Jersey.
In one instance, officers detained the 21-year-old driver of an older Infinity passenger vehicle after patrolmen apparently observed evidence of intoxication with the motorist. As a result of the investigation, the local man was arrested and charged with DWI. An 18-year-old passenger in the same vehicle was reportedly arrested for possession of heroin (a controlled dangerous substance, or CDS) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were subsequently released pending a court date and the vehicle itself was impounded.
In another instance, police stopped a late-model Ford Mustang at the Cedar Swamp Rd. checkpoint, the driver of which was a 24-year-old male from the Bayville, NJ, area. The man apparently impaired by drugs, since police arrested and charged the driver with DWI, as well as drug DUI and possession of a CDS.
In a third situation, police flagged down a Toyota being driven by a 46-year-old woman from Forked River, NJ. Upon further investigation, the driver was reportedly arrested on grounds of possessing a CDS (in this case Heroin) in a motor vehicle. The woman was also charged with operating an uninsured vehicle. Her bail was set at $20,000 and she ended up being placed in the Ocean County Jail. A 51-year-old male passenger was apparently also charged with heroin possession, as well as intent to distribute after officers allegedly found 150 bags of what was believed to be heroin in the car.
Jackson Police Make Multiple Arrests at Overnight DWI Checkpoint, OceanCountySignal.com, October 24, 2013