Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.
Interviewer: In New Jersey, do you have DWI roadblocks or DWI checkpoints? What is the purpose of the roadblocks?
Leckerman: The terminology for a roadblock or checkpoint is interchangeable. You can use either term. In New Jersey, they have roadblocks set up by both the state police and by local police departments.
Every police department does not routinely set up the roadblocks. I believe that certain departments get funding from the state or from the County in order to conduct the roadblocks.
The reason why they seem to need funding is to pay for overtime for the police who are doing the roadblock. Sometimes the townships or municipalities will actually combine their resources and have a number of different police departments doing these roadblocks at the same time.
You Will Primarily Encounter DWI Roadblocks During the Holidays
Generally, the roadblocks are done during the times of the year that you would expect them to be done. Most commonly, there are roadblocks during July 4, Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, and Thanksgiving. I rarely see roadblocks done during random times of the year.
I believe that the reason the roadblocks are put up during the busy holidays is because they can justify the expense by some type of statistical support that there are increased numbers of drunk driving incidents on those particular days.
Interviewer: Yes. Or, I guess, the moral high ground that, “Oh, we’ll keep you safe for the holidays.”
DWI Cases Generate Revenue for the State
Leckerman: Yes. I suppose that is one of the reasons for roadblocks being put up. However, a lot of revenue is generated by DWI cases in New Jersey. There may be ulterior motives to setting up roadblocks.
While Its Purpose Is to Stop Drunk Drivers, You Could Potentially Be Ticketed for Any Traffic Violation at the Roadblocks
When you put out these nets, it not only captures potential drunk drivers but it will pull in people who have minor motor vehicle infractions, such as registration issues or inspection problems. Then, there are issues with potential criminal matters, such as drug possession, that sometimes are discovered during the stop at these roadblocks, as well.
Interviewer: Yes. I imagine any small infraction such as a cracked windshield, a license plate light out, a broken tail light, is that right?
Leckerman: You’d think, but in New Jersey, the police are not allowed to just put up roadblocks in order to just check for minor motor vehicle infractions such as taillight out or a bad inspection or an unlicensed driver. The courts have deemed that type of intrusion into a citizen’s rights to be too great, for such a minimal payoff.