Recently DWI checkpoints have been a hot topic in DWI law discussions. Just last weekend, in New York, baseball fans were surprised when they left a Yankee’s game to be met by a whopping four DWI checkpoints, CBS New York reports. The report noted that the law enforcement officers set up the checkpoints in the vicinity of Yankee Stadium as part of a larger crackdown on drunk driving. However, the report also noted that the police did not intend the checkpoints to specifically target Yankee’s fans. Some Yankee’s fans stated in the report that they had not seen checkpoints around Yankee stadium before, while other fans mentioned that they were not bothered by the checkpoints because they use public transportation after the games. In either case, the recent crackdown was a surprise to many baseball fans in New York.
While the Yankee’s fans in New York may not have been too bothered by the DWI checkpoints, a man in Portsmouth, New Hampshire is fighting back against them. According to the Concord Monitor, police officers stopped and arrested Michael McFadden, a 49-year-old Hampton Falls man, at a DWI checkpoint last June. He was one of four drivers that received DWI charges from stops at that particular DWI checkpoint. However, 126 other drivers were stopped at that checkpoint in the three hours that law enforcement officers operated it. Mr. McFadden hired an attorney to challenge whether the checkpoint was constitutionally legal.
DWI checkpoints have been a contentious issue in Portsmouth in the past. Last year, several state Representatives sponsored state legislation to ban DWI checkpoints. However, the legislation failed. Additionally, in 2005, DWI checkpoints were challenged in Portsmouth Courts. The New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld DWI checkpoints, and the cases that were remanded eventually were resolved by plea bargains and reduced charges against the drivers.
The United States Supreme Court has also reviewed the issue of the constitutionality of DWI checkpoints. The National Motorists Association reports that in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the Supreme Court held that the checkpoint in question did not overwhelmingly intrude on the motorists’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Crucial to the decision was the fact that out of 126 drivers, only three were stopped and asked to perform field sobriety tests. The court further held that generally state DWI checkpoints are reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. However, it is important to note that police officers do not have an unfettered right to search a driver at a DWI checkpoint.
Whether New Hampshire will reconsider the constitutionality of DWI checkpoints is still yet to be determined. It is, however, important to know your rights when it comes to check points in your state. If you have been stopped at a DWI checkpoint and charged for violating DWI laws, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help you understand the charges against you and can defend your case in court. Contact the experienced attorneys at Nave DWI Defense Attorneys today at 877-418-0075 for a confidential consultation.