DWI stops and arrests are made every day in Westchester County, NY. Often these stops are as a result of a police officer’s observations (speeding, running a red light, swerving and other erratic driving). However in New York State, DWI checkpoints are common and drivers are regularly arrested as a result. You may have encountered a DWI checkpoint when driving and they are recognizable by the way that police establish a predetermined area where they slow and funnel traffic to allow each driver to be evaluated. Under the law, New York police can conduct sobriety checkpoints and administer breath tests to drivers if the officers have reason to believe that the driver is intoxicated.
However, “reason to believe” does not give the police the ability to administer tests to every driver passing through the checkpoint. The law requires that police follow both state and federal laws in operating the checkpoint. Failure to comply with the laws may result in any evidence obtained during the stop, including the results of the breath tests, to be deemed inadmissible in court.
What Federal Laws Govern DWI Checkpoints in Westchester, NY?
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, citizens are protected from illegal searches and seizures. Evidence gathered during an “illegal search” will be ruled inadmissible by the court. There are circumstances that arise that would allow evidence to be admissible even though the search appeared to be improper. One of the most common circumstances is when a driver consents. If a driver gives the police permission to search or consents to the administration of the breath test, the evidence obtained may become admissible.
In addition to the protections against illegal searches and seizures, a driver may not be arrested unless the police have probable cause. In the context of DWI offenses, probable cause arises when the officer has a reasonable basis to believe that the driver is operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition as defined by NY Vehicle and Traffic Law 1192. Failing a breath test would give the police probable cause to arrest someone for DWI.
Legal Criteria for Checkpoints in Westchester County and New York
Certain state and federal guidelines must be followed for evidence obtained during a DWI checkpoint to be admissible in the prosecution of a driver charged with DWI. Those guidelines include:
- The checkpoint does not impermissibly infringe on a drivers’ privacy;
- There is advance publication of the checkpoint’s purpose;
- Drivers are not stopped for an excessive amount of time;
- Supervisors are present at the checkpoint;
- Stops are made in accordance with random but predetermined criteria.
Finding Help If You Have Been Arrested for DWI in Westchester, NY
Since a DWI conviction can have a lasting impact on any driver and being arrested is never a simple experience, it is important that you have an experienced DWI Criminal Defense Attorney to help protect you.
If you are facing DWI charges, contact the DWI lawyers at Riebling & Payton, PLLC. With offices conveniently located in White Plains, NY and Mount Kisco, NY, defense attorneys Stephen Riebling and Marcia Payton are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to safeguard you and your driver’s license.
Our DWI lawyers are former NYC Prosecutors and the foremost Criminal Trial Defense Attorney in Westchester County, and we will use our 5 decades of experience and successful defense strategies to defend you.
Contact the attorneys at Riebling & Payton, PLLC for a free consultation today! Call us at (914) 712-6878.