Albany, New York is the location of a number of novel strategies used by local law enforcement agencies to combat DWI offenses. One of these is blanket patrols. A blanket patrol is a tactical operation by police where a larger number of uniformed officers than normal is assigned to a particular area to deal with a particular crime problem. In a DWI blanket patrol, police officers attempt to identify impaired drivers by looking for signs of drunk driving by observing the behavior changes of potential DWI offenders. The police may look for signs of impaired driving such as frequent lane changes, following other cars too closely, reckless driving and speeding. The main point of a blanket patrol for DWI is to deter drunk driving by using an increased police presence to let motorists know that they will be arrested if they drive drunk. Another point of blanket patrols is to increase public awareness of the issue of driving while intoxicated. Blanket patrols are legal in all 50 states and are deemed constitutional because motorists are only stopped if they are specifically suspected of drunk driving, and this minimizes the chance of random selection of suspected DWI offenders.
The use of blanket patrols in Albany is part of the STOP DWI Program, which has been in effect in Albany County since 1981. The mission of the program is to educate the community about drinking and driving and to provide a source of funding to local organizations committed to combating the number of DWI cases in Albany. Blanket patrols in Albany have been publicized extensively and conducted regularly. Evidence has shown that blanket patrols can be effective in reducing alcohol-related fatal crashes when accompanied by intensive publicity in a local area. The STOP DWI program in Albany also encompasses projects such as victim panels in local schools and community partnerships.
Blanket patrols have generally been successful in standing up to challenges under the Fourth Amendment. In People v. Beckwith, the court found that any type of traffic violation such as weaving, failure to signal, or erratic driving has been found to be a sufficient basis for an investigatory stop by police. An investigative traffic stop may be made without probable cause to make an arrest for DWI, however, the police officer must have a reasonable and articulate suspicion that the driver has committed a DWI offense for a lawful traffic stop.
For a police officer to make a lawful stop during a blanket patrol, the inferences that the officer makes based on observed driving behavior must have a reasonable basis. Sometimes, the errors and deviations of a suspected DWI offender may be nothing more than normal driving behavior. There must be additional facts of impaired driving to show that the stop in question was warranted. Courts have generally found that DWI cases present a great threat to public safety and have upheld any reasonable means of detecting, deterring, and removing DWI offenders. Courts have also considered the location of blanket patrols in considering their constitutionality. Courts have generally upheld the constitutionality of blanket patrols which are located in areas where empirical data showed a proliferation of drinking and driving.
The New York DWI law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys understands the field of DWI law in New York. If you seek counsel and guidance from a law firm staffed by DWI experts, the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys can help you by responding to your concerns and answering your questions about your DWI case.
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