I-TEAM: Roving DWI enforcement "much more effective" than checkpoints

Posted at 8:24 AM, Feb 08, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Google is now integrating Waze in its GPS service on mobile devices.

Waze is a navigational app, allowing drivers to work together and report accidents, delays and police locations.

The New York City Police Department is demanding Google, Waze's owner, remove a feature that allows for drivers to pinpoint police locations, specifically DWI checkpoints.

Despite New York State Police in Western New York claiming the app defeats the purpose of a DWI checkpoint, the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team has discovered some municipalities are using DWI checkpoints sparsely, if at all.

The Erie County Sheriff's Office told the I-Team, it doesn't have specific checkpoints anymore.

"We conduct roving enforcement as it is much more effective," the Erie County Sheriff's Office said.

In fact, the I-Team has learned the Erie County Sheriff's Office did not participate in any checkpoint during 2018.

Last year, the Erie County Sheriff's Office reports making 239 DWI arrests. A dozen arrests were as a result of Stop DWI operations. It's unclear what those operations entailed.

"It should be noted that in recent years roving patrols have been emphasized in place of static DWI Checkpoints," Erie County STOP DWI Director John Sullivan, wrote in a statement. "Obviously, in an era of immediate and widespread communications, a checkpoint in place for even a short time is well known and easily avoided."

Still, Sullivan says static checkpoints do play a role in overall deterrence:

"In addition to detecting some drinking drivers, the highly visible nature of a checkpoint and a driver’s personal contact with an officer increases deterrence among those who experience the operation. Individuals passing through a DWI checkpoint also broadcast this fact to thousands of others in their social networks. Such posts keep the risk of arrest in the public mind and at a time when the message may be most useful."

Buffalo police, in respose to the I-Team's official request for information, revealed "BPD does not have any records of DWI checkpoints being set up and/or manned..." between 2014 and 2018.

Amherst police report have no static checkpoints during the 2018 federal fiscal year.

Checkpoints were established three times between the federal fiscal years of 2014 and 2018:

  • Once on October 30, 2015
  • Once on October 28, 2016
  • Once on February 24, 2017.

In total, five penal law arrests were made as a result of those three static checkpoints.

The I-Team has requested DWI checkpoint information from New York State Police as it pertains to Western New York.

We were told we'd get a written response by January 31, 2019. We have not yet received that response.