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Drivers using the Fair DUI Flyer to avoid sobriety checkpoints

In our last blog post, we discussed the legal concept of reasonable suspicion with regard to a police officer being able to stop and pull over a driver who is suspected of drunk driving. One major caveat to the reasonable suspicion requirement is a DUI or sobriety checkpoint.

Despite being extremely controversial, 38 states, including New York, have taken steps to pass legislation supporting and legalizing DUI checkpoints. Such checkpoints are often set up along heavily traveled roads and highways or along stretches known for having high rates of DUI arrests. For a driver who comes upon a sobriety checkpoint, he or she may have many questions and concerns about how to proceed with regard to complying with a police officer's request to stop, roll down a motor vehicle's window and present one's driver's license and insurance information.

In New York State, it's been "upheld under the federal Constitution," that law enforcement officials are sanctioned to conduct sobriety checkpoints as frequently as on a weekly basis. As a result, drivers who encounter such a checkpoint are likely to comply with a police officer's requests without question. However, in recent months, an initiative referred to as the Fair DUI Flyer has garnered national attention and drivers throughout the country are using the flyer as a means to avoid standard compliance procedures at sobriety checkpoints.

The brainchild of the Fair DUI Flyer is a Florida attorney, who can be seen in a YouTube video driving up to a checkpoint and holding the printed flyer, along with a valid driver's license and current insurance card, up to the closed window in his motor vehicle. The flyer invokes the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment and right against unnecessary and unlawful search and seizure. At numerous checkpoints, the attorney is simply waived through. Thanks in large part to social media, national Awareness of the flyer has grown and drivers in numerous states have shared and posted their own similar stories and videos of them easily passing through sobriety checkpoints.

While the legal principles behind the Fair DUI Flyer are sound, most drivers in New York will continue to comply with police officers at sobriety checkpoints. For those who are subsequently arrested on drunk driving charges, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney who can provide sound legal advice and advocate on one’s behalf.

Source: KTVI-TV, "Loophole helping drivers skip DUI checkpoints," Melanie Moon, Feb. 20, 2015

Governors Highway Safety Association, "Sobriety Checkpoint Laws: New York," Sept. 10, 2015

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Glenn R. Bruno, Esq.