Our law firm recently represented a client charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Holmdel, New Jersey. My client was leaving a Brad Paisley concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center when she was stopped at a “seatbelt” check by a law enforcement officer. She was arrested for drunk driving and blew a .09% BAC on the Alcotest machine.
In reviewing the discovery evidence and the police report, it became clear that the probable cause for the stop was not sound. DWI checkpoints are constitutional in New Jersey if certain requirements are met. The controlling case in New Jersey is State v. Moskal, 246 N.J. Super 12 (1991) which details how the required procedures must operate if the roadblock is to be valid. In Moskal, the court concluded that a sobriety checkpoint (i.e. a roadblock) is valid provided the location of the checkpoint is appropriate based on historical arrest rates at the location, public safety and awareness would be foster by the checkpoint, there is participation in command and supervision, and notice of the checkpoint is published to provide motorist with notice.
In this case, the police were conducting a DWI checkpoint without the proper protocols being met. They did not publicize the check point or have the proper command and supervision at the location. Instead, they called the stop a “seat belt” check but they were stopping every vehicle, not only those vehicles in which the driver was not wearing a seat belt.
Based on this invalid DWI check point, the entire case against our client was dismissed.