Motorcycle Checkpoints and Your Rights
The New York State Police, along with local police and sheriff department personal, conducted a motorcycle safety checkpoint on October 9, 2007. They checked for proper licenses, safety helmets, exhaust systems and other safety and regulatory violations. In the report, it was stated that the checkpoint was to increase motorcycle safety by insuring compliance with applicable Vehicle & Traffic Laws and they expected to expand this program statewide in the summer of 2008.
Roadblocks are used to stop individuals who otherwise would not be. The courts have found them legal and a legitimate law enforcement tactic but this does not mean you donít have rights once you enter a roadblock.
Law enforcement does not have the authority to search you or your bike without probable cause. This is your Fourth Amendment right. If they ask you for permission, then itís likely they donít have a reason to do so. Never permit a voluntary search of your person or bike, or take off your helmet. Many times an officer will persist or will say to you something similar to ďif you don't have anything to hide, why object to a search?". This should be met with a response that you do not consent to any searches of your private property.
If the law enforcement suspects a DUI/DWI, do not say that you have had a drink. You do not have to answer questions about where you have been or where you are going, whether or not you have been drinking or what items are contained in your bike. The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination and you do not have to answer any questions that the police ask you.
You have a right to terminate your encounter with law enforcement unless you are being detained under police custody or have been arrested. You can ask the officer ďAm I free to go?Ē. If the answer is yes, leave immediately. The officer may avoid the question or ask you unrelated questions, persist by asking "am I being detained, or can I go now?" If you are detained and placed under arrest, do not answer any questions without your attorney present. Assert your Fifth and Six Amendments rights by saying these exact words: "Officer, I have nothing to say until I speak with a lawyer."
Also be aware that law enforcement vehicles are equipped with audio and video recording devices and are activated as soon as the lights go on. Remain calm, courteous and non-confrontational at all times.
The New York Freedom Riders oppose roadblocks but would like you to know your rights if you encounter them. For further information visit our website at: www.newyorkfreedomriders.com or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.