News Law Federal Judge Upholds Motorcycle Checkpoints in New York

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Federal Judge Upholds Motorcycle Checkpoints in New York Hot

motorcycle_checkpointFor the last two years motorcyclists have argued that motorcycle checkpoints were a form of profiling and violated their constitutional rights. A federal judge in New York disagreed. Judge Gary Sharpe ruled today that the motorcycle checkpoints in New York's main focus was to keep people safe and that they did not impede on anyone's constitutional freedoms.

Sharpe wrote:

"The court concludes the checkpoints were enacted to promote motorcycle safety, a manifest public interest; they were effective in addressing this interest; and that any interference with individual liberties was not only minimal, but also grossly outweighed by the interest advanced."

The interference with individual liberties was grossly outweighed by the interest advanced... - That's a dangerously fine line to walk.

The Wall Street Journal reports that program, enacted in 2008, was centered around large motorcycle rallies in the state. Four motorcyclists sued NY State Troopers saying that the motorcycle checkpoints were a pretext to look for criminals and that they were intrusive and unfair to motorcyclists.

Attorney Mitchell Proner said he would appeal the ruling. Proner said: "The intrusion on civil liberties is something that shouldn't be countenanced... It's obvious just from their own internal documents they're looking for criminal activity... The fact they didn't find crime doesn't mean that wasn't what they're fishing for. That just shows you've got law abiding citizens on motorcycles primarily being inconvenienced."

Here are some stats according to Sharpe's ruling.

  • 5,342 motorcycles passed through 17 checkpoints in 2008.
  • Authorities inspected 2,278 of those vehicles.
  • They made four criminal arrests
  • They issued 1,064 tickets
  • 365 for helmet violations
  • 99 for other safety violations
  • 600 for non-safety violations.

What do you think about motorcycle checkpoints? Do they promote safety? Or are they profiling motorcyclists?

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0 # Hoover 2011-11-19 21:05
The judge got it right. Stupid lawsuit brought by personal injury lawyer looking for motorcycle accident clients. An appeal will go nowhere.
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0 # Strega_Rossa 2011-11-20 01:00
I don't think motorcyclists are being profiled but this certainly is trawling to boost tickets. Why not car checkpoints. Heck I could get a ticket, my inspection is up but me and my bike are straight arrow legal!
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0 # CJ 2011-11-21 20:01
Motorcycle only checkpoints seem to be more about harassment than anything else. The national Department of Transportation provides funding to states for this profiling. These types of programs should be the 1st to lose funding. We are trying to cut the deficit, aren't we?
Imagine the reaction if everyone in an automobile was stopped for a "safety check" of unspecified duration!
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0 # SuperGlide 2011-11-23 12:24
Never expect the Constitution to matter much in states like New Yorkistan, Illinoistan, or Californistan. Never expect individual rights, supreme under our Constitution, to outweigh the perceived (or conceived) "public interest" or "rights of the state".
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0 # Robbb 2011-12-01 10:46
They are absolutely profiling motorcyclists. By virtue of our relatively small numbers we are a minority group, complete with discrimination, stereotyping, and things like these manditory checkpoints. I'm sure if you stopped an equal number of cars the stats would be much worse. How many people are driving while doing unsafe things (no seatbelt, phone, text, makeup, eating)? How many criminals are running around in cars (more than 4 out of 5300 for sure)? The difference is that if you tried to check all the CARS at checkpoints like this you'd be completely overwhelmed and the outcry would be enormous. Motorcyclists, on the other hand, are easy prey because there just aren't that many of us and we're mostly on our bikes for recreation. Unfortunately, I don't know what to do or how to stop this.
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0 # Joe Hugues 2012-08-24 21:07
Robbb, Can't agree with you more. I know your post is old but in June coming back from Leconia and crossing the state line from Vermont to NY, There was Biker road block in Hoosick Falls Ny. Officer Dibbles gave all of us a ticket for not having a proper helmets.Being from NJ, I would have to travel 350 miles to plead not guilty. The court will not tell you what the fine is until you plead guilty. Hence it turned out to be $155.00. I would like to know if you know of a site that we can tell people not to travel or stay in NY state. Years ago AMA had requested that all bikers going to Myrtle and traveling through North Carolina to gas up in Virginia and not stop at all for anything in North Carolina because Spartensburg had the same road blocks. They stopped their road blocks when they found out that it had cost the state millions in lost revenues from travelers and tourists.
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