DWI Checkpoints Cause Shift in Bar Business

Some local bars were hurt by the enforcement effort, others just saw more designated driving as a result.

This past summer was the summer of stepped-up enforcement to curb drunk driving, with 40 percent more driving while intoxicated charges this summer compared to last in Southold Town alone, and DWI checkpoints set up throughout the North Fork on holidays and other key weekends.

Last week, Suffolk County District attorney Thomas Spota announced that due to the success of the DWI checkpoint program — just over Labor Day weekend, the task force made 19 DWI arrests, two for driving while impaired and three for drug possession — the next phase of enforcement will be on the water to catch those boating while intoxicated.

But with these programs now in place, with the majority of DWI checkpoints set up during the evening and overnight hours, those in the local bar and restaurant industry said they have seen changes — good and bad — in business.

Marianne Reilly, manager at Four Doors Down in Mattituck, said that Labor Day Weekend in particular was “way off” due to the DWI checkpoints, one of which was set up not too far away near Cox Lane and Route 48 in Mattituck. Even the popular Santana tribute band, Abraxas, didn’t draw half the crowd they normally do.

“And a lot of people had designated drivers — we served a lot of water and soda," she said. "Many just didn’t go out at all because of the checkpoints, and I know we suffered because of it."

Checkpoints were set up in the afternoon as well as during the overnight period over Labor Day Weekend — daytime is when winery traffic is heaviest, and Southold Town Police, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"southold-town-police-department"} --> Chief Martin Flatley told Patch last week that

Jim Ryan September 19, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I think the checkpoints, themselves are wrong. I'm all for stopping drunk driving, but I'm not in favor of police checkpoints stopping everyone to see if they may have broken a law. If they're stopping everyone, why not search the car for drugs, and check citizenship papers too? Has the accident rate dropped on the North Fork or did some people just get promotions for making more arrests? Clearly on the North Fork, its like shooting fish in a barrell. There are only 2 access roads, and with the limit for impaired lowered to .05, just about anyone who's had a drink at all can be arrested. Why not stop pedestrians on the street to see if they're breaking any laws? Oh, that's right, they do that in NYC. Where are we headed?
Erin Schultz (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Laurie Jean DiBartolo said on Facebook: "I think DRUNK drivers are unfair to EVERYONE!!!!"
Joan Rocchetta September 19, 2012 at 02:26 PM
I was glad to comply at checkpoints. Officers were pleasant and I'm glad they're watching our backs...... Keeping us a bit safer .
jim September 19, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I agree with Jim Ryan. It is unconstitutional to arrest citizens who aren't necessarily suspected of criminal behavior, which is what checkpoints do. Including those "inspection sticker" and "seat belt checks." What's that you say? You're not being arrested? Try to leave the line. See if you're being arrested or not. The officers may be pleasant (they are) but it's no different than coming up to a random citizen and saying "Your Papers Please!" Boy, we just love giving up our rights don't we?
James Cope September 19, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I welcome this pro active program by our local police anytime. Weekly reports in the ST attest to the need. Jim Cope, Eastmarion
Erin Schultz (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Robert Bonanno said on Facebook: "It looks like the Police have found a way to counter the lack of tax money coming in.....Now the teachers gotta try to find a way!"
Jay Schneider September 19, 2012 at 04:48 PM
joe insider September 20, 2012 at 03:20 AM
How do you propose they try to enforce this law? It seems much more equitable and even-handed to run everyone through a checkpoint. Would you rather they randomly pull people over? That was ruled unconstitutional in Delaware vs. Prouse. Let me guess, you want them to establish probable cause. The problem with that is that it requires unsafe and risky driving be observed prior to pulling the driver over. A few cops covering many, many roads and that seems like finding a needle in a haystack. Perhaps hitting a van carrying a mom and small children would be probable cause enough for you. The reason we a paying for policing is to stop that from happening.
joe insider September 20, 2012 at 03:28 AM
You are confusing "rights" with "privileges". All rights come with responsibilities. Your "right" to operate a vehicle comes with the responsibility of doing so safely. Real patriots understand that. It is also quite different then "coming up to a random citizen and saying 'your papers please' ". In fact, it is the opposite. all who travel through get checked- all ages, all skin colors, all ethnic backgrounds, etc. Laborers to lawyers are all equally scrutinized. What is unfair about that?
joe insider September 20, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Finally a Jim (O.K James but close enough) who posted who seems to maturely understand the issue.
jim September 20, 2012 at 07:42 PM
I didn't confuse anything joe. The 4th Amendment protects the citizenry, patriots and rubes alike, from unlawful search and seizure. That this happens in a car or in your house isn't the point, the law must be applied without exception - as it is in some states but not NY. I fully accept that checkpoints scoop up offenders - but so would house-to-house searches for aliens and you wouldn't tolerate that I'm sure. I fully accept that driving is a privilege - but you do not throw out the constitution when you take to the road. Would you allow the same treatment for walking on the sidewalk? Walking on the sidewalk is a privilege because it's not yours either. Finally, what the hell has "real patriots" got to do with it? Since when did questioning the government become unpatriotic? You're the rube pal. Turn off FOX for a minute and read the Bill of Rights.
jim September 20, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Oh - and being compelled to say the alphabet backwards while standing on one foot with arms outstretched violates the 5th Amendment. You can look it up.
Timber September 21, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I thought this was quite appropriate- The Idaho Supreme Court took arguably the most pejorative view of roadblocks declaring them violative of the Idaho roadblock statute as well as the state constitution, not to mention ineffective based on the record before the court. In State of Idaho v. Henderson (1988), a case decided two years before the Supreme Court’s decision in Sitz, the court observed that “[p]erhaps the most important attribute of our way of life in Idaho is individual liberty. ..police treat you as a criminal only if your actions correspond. Such is not the case with roadblocks.” Consequently the Idaho Supreme Court determined that sobriety checkpoints violated Art. 1, § 17 of the Idaho Constitution which is not dissimilar to the 4th Amendment. The court held “where police lack express legislative authority, particularized suspicion of criminal wrongdoing and prior judicial approval, roadblocks established to apprehend drunk drivers cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”
Timber September 21, 2012 at 03:04 AM
In case you didn't know, the PAS Test (Preliminary Alcohol Screening), AKA the Breathalyzer, is voluntary as is those FST's, Field Sobriety Tests. Those voluntary tests are used to develop probable cause to arrest you. I know there will be questions to follow...
joe insider September 21, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Sorry Jim i don't watch Fox, too many blow hards. I have, however, read the Bill of Rights. I am also familiar with the Constitution and believe that governmental actions and whether or not those actions infringe on this very Bill of Rights was vested in the Supreme Court to decide. The court visited this issue many years ago in a case referred to as Delaware vs. Prouse. In that case the court ruled that systematic check points was in keeping with the rights of the public more so then the random stopping of motorists. Of course the Bill of Rights should be the law of the land and should not be infringed upon. However, you cannot take the Bill of Rights as separate from the Constitution. They are, after all, mere amendments to the body of law we call the Constitution. The Constitution says that it is the Supreme Court that shall decide issues such as these. Well the Supreme Court has spoken on this very issue and check points are a valid use of police discretion. See, no loss of rights here because those rights didn't exist to begin with.
Timber September 21, 2012 at 03:35 AM
@joe insider- "See, no loss of rights here because those rights didn't exist to begin with." This is incorrect. Even the supremes ruled that a checkpoint stop IS a "seizure" under the 4th. The seizure must be reasonable if it is not reasonable then it will violate a Right. So therefore, the Right(s) exists but your are free to believe otherwise.
joe insider September 21, 2012 at 04:20 AM
the court addressed this issue in Sitz and found that the substantial government interest in stopping drunk driving made it reasonable. Therefore, isn't the roadblock which was the issue of this thread reasonable and therefore constitutionally valid? What is the "right" here, not to be subjected to a checkpoint? The history of the court on this and similar issues generally provides broad discretion to policing agencies. Yes there are many cases found at the various states level in which a particular state court rules in favor the the party arguing under 4th amendment privileges but it is the Supreme Court of the United States that ultimately makes the call. And they have found roadside checkpoints to be reasonable therefore, constitutionally valid exercises of the policing agency.
Timber September 21, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Yes the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Michigan police but did you read what the Michigan Supreme Court did after remand? They ruled, for a second time, in favor of the citizen of Michigan under their state constitution. Here is an excerpt: "Although we fully recognize the enormity of the problem caused by drunk driving, we do not believe the proposed elimination of the rights of Michigan citizens to be free from suspicionless seizure a proper response to the problem. As succinctly stated by Justice Brandeis in his dissent in Olmstead v United States,277 U.S. 438, 479; 48 S.Ct. 564; 72 L Ed 944 (1928): 'Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.' We find the indiscriminate suspicionless stopping of motor vehicles violative of art 1, § 11 of the Michigan Constitution.


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