During Fourth of July weekend in 2021, New York State Police officers issued 10,238 tickets during its holiday weekend enforcement campaign. Governor Andrew Cuomo explained that this ticketing by law enforcement officials saved numerous lives across the state. The special enforcement period was Friday, July 2 – July 5, 2021.
The campaign used a range of measures to stop drunk or reckless holiday driving. These measures included sobriety checkpoints, along with ticketing of distracted drivers and reckless driving. During the campaign, 648 crashes were investigated. In the course of these crashes, there were 2 deaths and 122 injured accident victims. State troopers arrested 195 drivers for driving while intoxicated. They arrested 3955 drivers for speeding violations and 202 drivers for distracted driving violations, such as looking at a phone while driving. There were 671 violations involving failure to wear a seatbelt. For comparison, 8214 tickets were issued in the 2020 Fourth of July holiday enforcement campaign with 180 arrests for DWI.
Types of traffic arrests over the holiday weekend can also be broken down by different troops in the Hudson Valley. For example, there were 1319 traffic tickets issued by Troop F. The same troop had 17 DWI violations and 425 speeding violations.
Sobriety checkpoints over a holiday are also lawful even though they impinge on your Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, you maintain certain constitutional and procedural rights regardless of the tactics of the campaign. For instance, the police must have probable cause you were committing a crime to legally pull you over. Often during holiday enforcement campaigns, police are particularly alert to the possibility of moving violations, such as speeding or aggressive driving, and use the stop to decide whether somebody is driving under the influence. If you are arrested for DWI or DWAI, you may face jail time and fines. And in the event of a serious accident or injuries in connection with DWI, you’ll face a chemical test, most likely a mandatory blood test.
Between a DWI and a DWAI, a DWI is considered the more severe offense. You will be assigned points for specific traffic violations. For instance, 3 points are assigned for speeding 1-10 miles per hour over the speed limit, but 11 points will be assigned if you were speeding 40 miles per hour or more over the limit. Five points are assessed for reckless driving. If you receive 11 points in an 18-month window, your driver’s license will be suspended. When you’re a driver under age 21, you can be given enhanced penalties for various violations.
The Driver’s Responsibility Assessment, started in 2004 by then-Governor Pataki, mandates a $300 fine for speeding and $500 for DWI. There is no path to reduction available and you cannot get out of this. If you don’t pay the fee, your license will be suspended.
There are specific guidelines that apply to sobriety checkpoints. When evidence of a DWI is obtained during a sobriety checkpoint, the prosecutor will bear the burden of showing:
- The primary purpose of the checkpoint was to address a valid law enforcement goal.
- The checkpoint was established as a program
- The checkpoint was effective at meeting the law enforcement goal.
- The checkpoint was administered according to a uniform procedure that involved explicit, neutral restrictions of the conduct of individual officers
- The procedures employed at the checkpoint didn’t impinge impermissibly on motorists’ privacy as they came to the checkpoint.
- The checkpoint implemented adequate safeguards regarding lighting, safety, and fair warning that a checkpoint exists.
If your rights were violated at a checkpoint or another stop in the course of a holiday campaign, the evidence obtained from the stop can be subject to a motion to suppress.
In some cases, drivers don’t understand their rights in connection with a driving while impaired charge. You should not be intimidated at a checkpoint or during a stop based on a traffic violation. Likewise, you shouldn’t be subject to an illegal search. If you believe you were and you were arrested, it is critical to retain counsel.
Mark Siesel is a tough, seasoned White Plains DWI defense lawyer with 35 years of litigation experience. He represents drivers in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, along with Westchester, Putnam, Kings, Orange, Dutchess, Sullivan, Rockland, and Ulster Counties. Call him at (914) 428-7386 or complete this online form.