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Defendant Contends Sobriety Check Point was Illegal

At around midnight of April 15, 1992, the police set up a DWI checkpoint at the corner of Clinton and Stanton Streets in Manhattan. The police officers set up the checkpoint so that all the passing cars would be funneled into one lane and every motorist would have to pass the checkpoint.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said when the accused drove up to the check point, the police officer was standing near the driver’s side. He knocked on the window and the driver rolled down his window. The police officer asked the driver something which he could not remember when he testified at the probable cause/ preclusion hearing. Even the accused could not remember what the police officer asked him.

At this time, the police officer asked the driver to pull over to the side of the street because he saw that the driver had watery bloodshot eyes and he could smell alcohol on his breath. When the driver was already parked on the side of the road, the police officer asked him to exit the car. The driver was unsteady on his feet. The driver told the police officer that he drank two beers and had to shots of vodka. The police officer also found an empty bottle of vodka in the car.

At the driver’s arraignment, the prosecutor served notice on the lawyer of the driver that the accused driver had stated to the police that he had two beers and two shots of vodka. A New York DWI Lawyer said the prosecutor gave the lawyer a copy of the IDE report (Intoxicated Driver’s Examination Report) filled out by the arresting officer. The IDE Report contains a list of questions that a police officer may ask the driver who was stopped on the road. On this piece of paper, the police officer noted down the answers of the driver. While the prosecutor gave the lawyer a copy of the IDE report to the lawyer of the driver, the prosecutor did not include the IDE report in the notice as one of the documents he intended to present at trial as evidence against the accused driver.

During the trial when the prosecutor was attempting to introduce the IDE report, the lawyer for the accused driver objected and asked for preclusion of the IDE report on the ground that it was not included in the notice. A Nassau County DWI Lawyer said the lawyer for the accused driver also put in question the legality of the checkpoint at which the accused driver was stopped. The lawyer for the accused driver also asked for the preclusion of the vodka bottle found in his car.

The question before the Court is whether or not the IDE report should be precluded; and whether or not the checkpoint at which the accused driver was stopped was established in accordance with the guidelines.

The Court held that although the prosecutor gave the lawyer for the accused driver a copy of the IDE report, the prosecutor did not notify the lawyer or the accused driver that he intended to use the IDE report as evidence against the accused driver. The Court reasoned that the reason for requiring the prosecution to indicate all the pieces of evidence it intended to present and to offer is so that the accused can fully prepare for his defense. By not including the IDE report in the notice, the prosecutor showed that he was not going to use that particular IDE report at trial. The prosecutor is now precluded from presenting the IDE report at trial.

The Court also held that the prosecution was unable to establish that the checkpoint was established in accordance with the guidelines. First, the police officer who testified did not know why the DWI checkpoint was established at the particular corner. No supervisory officer was present overseeing the operation of the checkpoint. There were no signs on the road indicating that there was a DWI checkpoint up ahead. There was no proof that the police officers manning the checkpoint asked the questions which were right and proper for them to ask the motorists they were stopping at the checkpoint. Particularly, the Court noticed that the police officer who stopped the accused driver did not ask him where he had been. This question would have been proper for him to ask at the checkpoint but the police officer could not remember if he had asked the accused driver that question.

Since the prosecution failed to prove that the checkpoint was established and operated in accordance with the guidelines, then the arrest and the seizure of the vodka bottle from the car of the accused driver were also illegal.

Were you stopped at a DWI checkpoint? Were you arrested for DWI at the checkpoint? You need advice from the NYC DWI lawyer. A NY DWI lawyer can first argue for you that the checkpoint was not established or operated in accordance with the guidelines. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, their New York City DWI Lawyers are willing to help you file a motion for a hearing to determine probable cause for you arrest. At this hearing, the New York DWI lawyer can raise the theory that the checkpoint was established and operated in an arbitrary fashion. Call or visit any of the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates in the New York area. Speak with their New York DWI lawyers on staff.

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