Prosecution and Defense

Use of Roadblocks

The police in New Jersey frequently use roadblocks to bust DWI ddefendants. The best way to contest a DWI caused from a roadblock arrest is to ascertain if the roadblock was “reasonable” under a traditional Fourth Amendment analysis. It is now settled that the stopping of a motor vehicle at a roadblock, even for a brief period of time, constitutes a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Therefore, in a roadblock DWI case, the constitutionality of the roadblock must be attacked. In determining the constititutionality of a roadblock, the court will analyze the following factors:

1. The degree of discretion, if any, left to the police officer in the field;

2. The location designated for the roadblock;

3. The time and duration of the roadblock;

4. The standards set by superior officers;

5. Advance notice to the public at large;

6. Advance warning to the individual approaching motorist

7. Maintenance of safety conditions;

8. Degree of fear or anxiety generated by the mode of operation;

9. Average length of time each motorist is detained;

10. Physical factors surrounding the location, type, and method of operation;

11. The availability of less intrusive methods for combating the problem;

12. The degree of effectiveness of the procedure; and

13. Any other relevant circumstances which might bear upon the test.

In summary, the best way to fight a DWI case when the driver is stopped in a roadblock trap is to fight the constitutionality of the stop. Defense counsel confronted with a roadblock should demand in discovery all of the information leading to the establishment and conduct of the roadblock. Defense counsel also should be vigilant to make sure that all of the guidelines required render the “seizure” during the roadblock reasonable under the New Jersey Constitution have been fully adhered to by the police.