Sobriety Checkpoints Are Now Being Set Up…Inside of Bars?
An increasing number of New Hampshire DWI lawyers and criminal defense attorneys have begun to view DWI sobriety checkpoints as a clear violation of the protections afforded by the 4th Amendment. The is the practice of police agencies of establishing locations on New Hampshire’s roadways where motorists can be stopped without due “probable cause” to suspect a crime is being committed. For those who believe this practice is unconstitutional, a new initiative by police officers in Sacramento, California will have them up in arms.
This past Memorial Day, Sacramento police officers launched a new program designed to combat motorists who choose to drive while intoxicated. While the rationale for this new program initially seems just, it is its implementation that is anything but.
Individuals patronizing bars over the holiday weekend were shocked to see multiple SPD members come into the establishments and request that the bar patrons submit to Breathalyzer tests. Arguing that DWI roadblocks have not proven effective enough, the Sacramento Police Department created this initiative to attack the problem where it originates: the establishments where alcohol is consumed.
Bar patrons who were exposed to the program described it as a “buzzkill”, and several bar owners and managers have experienced concern over how the presence of police officers could affect their revenue and their patrons’ ability to relax and enjoy themselves.
Police officers on the Sacramento force have vowed not to “test and arrest”; however, this is not what has many casting a worried eye on this new pilot program. Rather, it is the idea that police officers are able to enter private property and require private citizens to submit to Breathalyzer tests. Many believe this to be a violation of personal space and a loss of freedom. Moreover, many attorneys and lawyers in California believe that this program leaves an open door for entrapment and illegal searches, which violate the 4th Amendment, by starting unnecessary confrontations.
Hopefully, the flaws of this initiative will be quickly recognized, and it will not be adopted by other police municipalities.
Sacramento’s Chief of Police defends the program by stating that it does not create an incursion on anyone’s constitutional rights, because it is voluntary. A bar patron can refuse to submit to a breath test and will not incur any penalties for doing so. However, some have expressed concern that, if a person refuses to submit to the test, it will only draw officers’ focus onto themselves, and the person who refused to take the test could be followed by police officers once they leave the establishment. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon tactic in New Hampshire when a motorist lawfully turns away from a DWI checkpoint.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DWI in New Hampshire, it is imperative that you contact a reputable and experienced NH DWI attorney immediately. Not only do you want to achieve a positive outcome in your case, but it is also of the utmost importance to ensure that your legal rights and freedoms are protected. For a free consultation, please contact us today.