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Court Discusses Constitutionality of DUI Checkpoints


The defendant in this case was charged with a criminal violation as regards vehicle and traffic law. The police officer involved in this case was assigned to a DWI checkpoint. In accordance with the procedures that are required, every vehicle was stopped and every driver was asked if he or she had been drinking. If the driver answered affirmatively, he or she was asked to submit to a test.

The defendant entered the checkpoint area and in response to the officer’s question indicated that he had been drinking. The defendant exhibited the classic signs of intoxication, slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes, an odor of alcohol and unsteadiness on his feet. The defendant agreed to submit to the test and the results indicated alcohol content. The defendant was arrested and taken to the precinct. The officer told the defendant that he would be given an examination and that if his blood alcohol content registered a lesser percentage, he would be released; that if he refused to submit to the test, his license would be revoked; and if the results would be unfavorable for him, his license would be suspended. The test was conducted two hours after the arrest

The defendant took the test, without any apparent hesitation or protest.

The court concluded that the DUI checkpoint and the manner in which it were effected to be a proper exercise of the power of the government. Accordingly, the stop of the defendant was proper. Furthermore, the questionnaire was freely and voluntarily made by the defendant. The question imposed was whether or not the test results can be admitted at trial even if the test was conducted two hours after the arrest.

Majority of the members of the court held that where a defendant expressly and voluntarily consented to submit to a test, the two-hour rule would be inapplicable.

The court held that since the privilege to drive is created by the law, there is no constitutional right on the part of the driver to refuse to take the test. It is clear that consent involves a person’s knowing choice from all of the factors present in each situation. The factors that the court must consider in determining whether consent was present in relationship of the characteristics of the defendant and details in the process of questioning, including the age and intelligence of the defendant, the administration of the warnings, the length of the detention, physical treats, abuse or isolation, reliance upon false promises and the manner itself in which the consent occurred, that is, a reluctant, limited consent or a self-prompted spontaneous consent.

There was no obligation on the part of the law enforcement official to advise a suspect of anything regarding the administration of an examination even when the request to submit to a search test occurs beyond the two hours of arrest. It appears that a simple request to submit to an examination without more, can result in a voluntary consent as long as there is no express or implied coercion by such law enforcement official, no material misrepresentation of fact, to influence the consent and no facts to suggest that any law enforcement official in securing an individual’s consent acted in a manner so fundamentally unfair as to constitute a violation of the rights of a person.

The defendant’s degree of intoxication or impairment was not so extreme as to render him incapable, by virtue of intoxication, from understanding the nature of the events or from forming intent to consent to the administration of the examination. Therefore, there was a voluntary consent to submit to the examination on the part of the defendant. Thus, the results must be admitted to be evidence in trial.

Intoxication while driving is only one of the numerous traffic violations that can be punished by the law. Basically, a motor vehicle driver must always bear in mind that his license is in the form of a privilege which can be revoked or suspended by the government if there has been transgression on the part of the driver. With these, a party may always resort to the advice and service of a Queens Criminal Lawyer. A Queens DUI Lawyer is the right and suitable person to handle your concerns as regards the matter. They are trained and equipped with sufficient expertise to analyze the circumstances surrounding the case. If you are on the right place, most likely, you will a Queens DWI Attorney to help you with your legal concerns.

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