Are sobriety checkpoints legal in the Garden State?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | DUI/DWI Defense |

Now that summer is in full swing, you may be planning a festive outing with your family members or friends. If your adventure includes alcohol, though, it is important to understand the legal risks that come with drinking and driving. Simply arranging a sober ride home is likely to eliminate these risks.

Even if you never drive with a blood alcohol concentration above New Jersey’s 0.08% legal limit, you may encounter a sobriety checkpoint. Provided these checkpoints meet certain requirements, they are usually legal in the Garden State.

What happens at a sobriety checkpoint?

According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, sobriety checkpoints are effective and popular enforcement tools. At these checkpoints, officers typically stop a random sample of approaching cars. The purpose of the checkpoint is merely to determine whether drivers may be driving while impaired.

When are sobriety checkpoints legal?

For a sobriety checkpoint to pass legal scrutiny, it must have certain characteristics. These include all of the following:

  • A supervising officer must approve the time and location of the checkpoint.
  • The location and time of the checkpoint must have a relationship to legitimate policing goals and public safety.
  • The checkpoint must have signs to alert approaching motorists.
  • Officers must publicize the checkpoint in advance to deter potential drunk drivers.
  • Officers must be neutral and nondiscriminatory when stopping vehicles at the checkpoint.

Officers also must provide a safe place for drivers to stop temporarily while being as professional and courteous as possible. This does not always happen, unfortunately.

Ultimately, to reduce your odds of having a bad experience at a sobriety checkpoint, it is advisable to remain in your vehicle, say as little as possible and obey officer instructions.


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