Understanding DWI Checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints have become more prevalent in the past ten years, especially in the state of New York. Advocates for the continued use of DWI checkpoints focus their discussion on the effectiveness of the DWI checkpoints ability to deter drunk driving. Those who protest DWI checkpoints often focus on the constitutionality of the stops.
In 1984 the court in People of New York v. Scott held that DWI checkpoints are constitutional, and their constitutionality is not “affected by the shifting and temporary nature of the checkpoints.” People v. Scott, 63 N.Y.2d 518, 529 (1984) The constitutionality of DWI checkpoints have been challenged ever since their inception, however, consistently the courts held that DWI checkpoint procedures are constitutional and are a “valuable component” in controlling drunk driving.
The discussion of DWI checkpoints made to United States Supreme Court in 2004. Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist issued the decision in Michigan Department of State Police v. Stitz and held that a Fourth Amendment “seizure occurs when a vehicle is stopped at a checkpoint…[however,]the checkpoint programs do not violate the Fourth Amendment. Emphasis on the decision came from the “magnitude of, and the States’ interest in eradicating the drunken driving problem.” Michigan Dep’t of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 444 (1990).
Recent DWI Checkpoint
Friday night (April 26, 2014) after the New York Yankees game “some Yankees fans were surprised to find four police DWI checkpoints set up in the vicinity of the Yankees Stadium.” Although most people in New York and New Jersey travel to Yankees game via public transportation, those who didn’t were surprised by the checkpoints.
CBS New York reported that these checkpoints were part of a “citywide crackdown on drunken driving.” Surprisingly, most fans were actually quite supportive of the checkpoints. One fan stated that he thought it was “kind of poaching on people” but it was worth it if it meant getting drunk drivers off the streets.
New York Police department urged that it was not aimed at Yankees fans merely part of a larger scheme to crack down on drunk driving. Additionally, a police source from the NY Post stated that “NYPD sporadically sets [DWI checkpoints]up around the stadium after games.” However, this particular DWI checkpoint was not a part of the special game-day unit. Maybe for comical effect, other Yankees fans wanted to know if the Mets fans were subject to the same level of scrutiny.
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