NJ State Police Conduct DUI Checkpoint Outside of Concert
In late July 2014, New Jersey police conducted a drunk driving checkpoint outside of a Toby Keith concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Starting around 8 p.m., officers began stopping cars that were exiting the show and entering the Garden State Parkway. Officers were looking specifically for drivers who exhibited signs of impairment due to drinking or drug use.
DUI checkpoints are often scheduled around major events, such as concerts or sports games, where people are more likely to be consuming alcoholic beverages over long periods of time. Officers hope that by targeting these specific events, they can reduce the number of fatalities and injuries due to drunk driving. In 2014 alone, there have already been 198 fatalities on New Jersey highways — and many occurred due to drunk driving.
DUI checkpoints, or roadblocks, as they are often called, might seem illegal at first, but they are, in fact, a completely legal form of traffic stop. In 1990, the United States Supreme Court ruled that these types of stops, despite posing a slight inconvenience to drivers, were instrumental in reducing roadway fatalities, and that the benefit far outweighed any potential infringement.
While the checkpoints are legal, this does not eliminate motorists’ rights. In fact, DUI roadblocks must be administered according to strict regulations. Checkpoints must be clearly marked and stops must be uniformly carried out. For instance, if a checkpoint is only pulling over certain drivers, it must do so according to a pattern (such as every third car) and cannot hand-select which vehicles to stop.
If you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm. In most cases, you have nothing to worry about and will be through in less than 30 seconds. Be sure to cooperate by following the flow of traffic and responding if an officer asks you your name or requests to see your license. That said, you may refuse to answer specific questions regarding your evening activities or whether you have been drinking. In those cases, politely inform the officer that you do not answer questions of that nature without an attorney present. It is completely within your rights to decline this questioning and officers cannot punish you for exercising these rights.
If you are arrested for DUI at a checkpoint in New Jersey, seek advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately.