This case is regarding a defendant who was questioned by officers because she has been repeatedly found to be under the influence of liquor. The defendant was charged with a twin criminal charge of having more than the prescribed alcohol level in her system and driving under the influence of alcohol. The court found out with sufficient evidence that she is drunk but still drove her motor vehicle. The plaintiffs request a hearing but the court refuses and decides to take a motion on the papers promptly.
During the next time that the defendant was caught, she was then pronounced drunk driving again by the patrols base on the breath sample that she gave. However, the defendant challenged the constitutionality of the checkpoint established by the authorities. She then allowed the patrols to evaluate the kind of checkpoint they are operating and questioned the duty of the patrol to disturb every citizen who passes by that street. The petitioner alleges that the patrols didn’t realize that the people are suffering from legal stigma for the unwarranted police procedures conducted by the authorities.
The Court has taken into consideration the stringent protocol of setting up a checkpoint wherein a memorandum or a plan of the checkpoint to be established is sent to the Assistant Deputy Superintendent. The memorandum must contain the following: time and location of the planned checkpoint, enforcement of personnel and system of stop.
Also, the protocol includes the strict implementation of the DWI program notification and the DWI Program Activity Record. Under said guidelines, it is a must that these reports be completed on time. These records are used by the authorities to commence both criminal and civil proceedings.
Under this instant case, none of the documents were complied with by the police. There was also no document transmitted to the appropriate official or division of the New York State Police Department. Thus, having missed to abide by their own protocols, the state must suffer the consequences.
Under the New York Constitution, a check-point stop is considered as a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The general rule states that there could only be a valid seizure of an automobile if there was an individualized suspicion of a wrongdoing. Generally, a sobriety checkpoint does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
However, a vehicle checkpoint, wherein the primary purpose was indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control was long declared as unconstitutional. This also includes a drug interdiction checkpoint.
The Court also discussed that the primary programmatic purpose of setting up the check point must be determined by examining the reasons for undertaking the same as opposed to the particular manner in which the checkpoint was conducted. The government also has the burden of complying with the following requisites: (1) a checkpoint must be carried out pursuant to a plan embodying explicit, neutral limitations on the conduct of individual officers” and (2) the discretion of the official in the field be circumscribed.
Also, the people has the burden of proving at a suppression hearing that the particular checkpoint was conducted in a non-discretionary manner wherein the officers did not exercise individual discretion on where to stop the cars or what questions to ask; (3) there should also be a set of adequate precautions as to safety, lighting, and fair warning of the existence of the checkpoint; (4) the location of the extablished checkpoint must be chosen by officers responsible for making the decisions as to the effective allocation of limited enforcement resources.
If the above-enumerated requirements were satisfactorily met by the police officers, the same could substitute for the constitutional norm of individualized suspicion.
Thus, having examined the facts of this instant case, the court is of the view that the checkpoint subject matter of this proceeding was unconstitutional and represented an unlawful search and seizure. Thus, the defendant’s motion to suppress the results of any chemical analysis of her breath and all evidence gathered from her.
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