April 16, 2009


New York State Motorcycle Only Checkpoints 2009


New York State Police, local and county police will be conducting motorcycle only safety enforcement checkpoints again this year. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has awarded the New York State Police $227,084 for statewide motorcycle enforcement details along with grants given to the Greece PD, Suffolk and Warren Counties. [1]


These motorcycle only checkpoints target a particular group of individuals which has been determined to be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States of America has repeated held that “the citizen who has given no good cause for believing he is engaged in (criminal) activity is entitled to proceed on his way without interference” Bandrinegar, supra; see also Terry v. Ohio, supra.


New York State Police have claimed that with the rise in motorcycle fatalities, these motorcycle only checkpoints are to increase motorcycle safety by insuring compliance with applicable Vehicle and Traffic Laws. We have read The New York State 2009 Highway Safety Plan and the state has determined that the most common contributing factor in police reported motorcycle crashes was “unsafe speed” followed by “failure to yield the right of way”. [2] New York’s motorcycle only checkpoints are not addressing the two major causes of motorcycle fatalities in our state. The State Police have also said in their press release in 2007 that “Approximately one-quarter of all fatally injured motorcycle drivers were unlicensed in 2005.”The Highway Safety Plan has addressed the issue of licensed motorcyclists and the extent of the unlicensed motorcyclist problem in New York has not been determined and more research is needed.


The motorcycle only safety enforcement checkpoints are being conducted at the same time as large motorcycle events. The reason given by law enforcement is they need a sufficient volume of motorcycle traffic to justify the substantial number of resources involved. [3] This includes Americade in Lake George and the Harley Rendezvous in Duanesburg. Last year a motorcycle only checkpoint was done along the Niagara Thruway at the Peace Bridge where 780 motorcyclists headed for Canada were stopped.


Law enforcement will be looking for the following violations at the checkpoints:

Inspection stickers and placement of the sticker


375 (35c) -unsafe tires

381(1a) -front headlamp not deployed

Rear plate illumination

381((3) lights- only white or yellow

381(4)-approved red reflector in the rear

381(5)-handlebar height

381(6) - unapproved or no helmet:

381(10) - rearview mirrors

381(11) - exhaust pipes

402(1a)- plate must be secure and mounted between 12-48 inches on the rear of the vehicle- not at the rear axle

402(1b)-plates must be clean and easily readable


411(1)-plates are required to be “conspicuously displayed on the rear” not on the rear axle

411(3) - switched plates

509(2) - license –operating out of class

The New York Freedom Riders do not condone this type of program to improve motorcycle safety. We feel it is unconstitutional to stop anyone at checkpoints, including motorcyclists, for no reason other than to issue tickets. These checkpoints give the police an opportunity to target a specific mode of transportation which is discrimination and is not about motorcycle safety. The majority of motorcyclists are legal and they have the right to travel freely. As always, The New York Freedom Riders promote motorcycle education and informing motorists to watch for motorcycles as a solution to the fatalities and injuries in New York State.


We have received complaints about these motorcycle only checkpoints and understand the frustration many are feeling while traveling to an event. If you would like to voice your opinion about New York’s new safety initiative, we would like to suggest contacting the following:

To Write To The Governor:
David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Click here to email the Governor.


New York State Division of Tourism

P.O. Box 2603
Albany, NY 12220-0603

The Public Information Office at New York State Police Headquarters

Lt. Glenn Miner
New York State Police
Public Information Office
Bldg. 22, 1220 Washington Ave.
Albany, New York 12226




P.O. Box 2205 Glens Falls, NY 12801

518) 798-7888




If you are interested in fighting this unlawful activity or need information to fight a ticket, please contact the New York Freedom Riders by email: Also review “Motorcycle Checkpoints and Your Rights” at:


New York Freedom Riders

Riders Against Constitutional Erosion

"Freedom Is NOT A Spectator Sport"



[1] GTSC 2009 grants awarded:

[2] New York State Highway Safety Strategic Plan FFY 2009

[3] Police Chief Magazine July 2008