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

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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