DWI Roadblocks in New Jersey

Prospective clients often question the fairness of roadblocks resulting in drinking and driving charges. These types of questions are only understandable given the random nature of a roadblock encounter. Not surprisingly, New Jersey has formulated rather technical procedures to safeguard against unreasonable detention and seizure stemming from roadblocks.

The constitutionality of police roadblocks was addressed in the 1979 United States Supreme Court case of Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979). In Prouse, the Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional to stop and detain a driver absent articulable suspicion that a motorist is unlicensed, that the automobile is unregistered, or the vehicle or an occupant is otherwise subject to seizure for violation of law (e.g. motor vehicle violation, warrant, etc.). The issue was, however, revisited under New Jersey’s Constitution in State v. Kirk, 202 N.J. Super 28 (App.Div.1985). In Kirk, the court held that temporary road blocks set up by New Jersey police were unconstitutional absent safeguards such as identified procedures for ensuring supervisory control of checkpoints and warnings to motorist of the anticipated roadblock. The case of State v. Moskal 246 N.J. Super 12 (1991) illustrates 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 fostered by the checkpoint, there is participation in command and supervision, and notice of the checkpoint is published to provide motorist with notice.

Given the rather strict requirements which must be complied with by the police in conducting a roadblock, a knowledgeable drunk driving lawyer can be invaluable in defending a driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence charge arising out of a roadblock stop. Please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall for a free initial consultation if you were charged with a DWI, DUI and/or a refusal as a result of a roadblock. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers handle drinking and driving charges throughout New Jersey and can provide assistance in roadblock cases.