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One of the protections people have from government intrusion into their lives is the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution protects your right to drive without being stopped by a police officer, unless the officer has reason to believe that you have broken the law.

For example, if a police officer sees you having difficulty keeping your car in its lane of travel or observes you driving well below the posted speed limit, you can be pulled over so the officer can determine whether you are driving while intoxicated.

Police departments in New York and in other parts of the country have developed another method of stopping drivers to determine if they are violating the state's laws against drunk driving, even without observing any telltale behaviors before the stop.

Sobriety checkpoints, also referred to as DUI checkpoints, are roadblocks set up along busy roadways where officers screen drivers for signs of intoxication.

Sobriety checkpoints were challenged as being a violation of the Constitution because they did not require probable cause or reasonable suspicion of the commission of a crime for motorists to be stopped. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the practice, provided that police followed predetermined guidelines and procedures for operating the checkpoints.

According to the Court, police have to use a random selection procedure that does not single out a particular motorist or vehicle. One method used by police to ensure randomness of the selection of vehicles is to use a predetermined interval.

For example, officers might stop every fourth car passing the checkpoint, but the fifth car passing through would not be stopped unless officers had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop it.

Some states have opted not to use checkpoints to identify drivers who might be over the legal limit, but New York is not one of them. If you drive in Rockland County or other communities in New York, you could find yourself being stopped at a DUI checkpoint.

This post is not intended as anything other than an overview. It is not legal advice, and should not be relied upon as suggesting what you should do if stopped by the police on a drunk driving charge. You should consult a criminal law attorney for legal advice if you are charged with operating under the influence.

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