Suffolk County readers of this blog have been exposed to discussions about the probable cause requirement for stopping a driver on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Erratic driving or a traffic accident most likely will satisfy that inquiry. Yet readers may be unsure of how that Fourth Amendment procedural protection plays out in the context of a sobriety checkpoint, where authorities stop every vehicle.
In New York, courts have determined that checkpoints as constitutionally permissible. In fact, that conclusion is the majority viewpoint, shared by 37 other American States, as well as the District of Columbia. Although courts recognize that drivers have an interest in being free from unreasonable searches and seizures, it may be outweighed by the threat of drunk drivers, at least to the extent of allowing checkpoints.