Evasion of DWI Checkpoint is a Basis for Investigatory Stop

The Supreme Court of New Mexico overruled the New Mexico Court of Appeals in State v. Anaya. The Court of Appeals had ruled that evasion of a DWI/DUI Checkpoint was not an illegal act and therefore could not provide the reasonable suspicion necessary for an investigatory stop.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the surrounding circumstances and the evasion of the a checkpoint itself gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of DWI/DUI and thus was sufficient foundation for the investigatory stop.

State v. Anaya involved a DWI checkpoint set up outside of Farmington. The highway leading up to the checkpoint was well marked with cones, droplights, emergency lights, and signs indicating to approaching motorist the presence of the checkpoint. The defendant, Anaya, upon seeing the checkpoint, made a legal u-turn to avoid the checkpoint. She was pulled over by a police officer who was stationed nearby for these very purposes.

Anaya attempted to suppress the evidence gathered during the stop arguing that the stop constituted an illegal search and seizure in violation of the 4th Amendment. The trial court denied the motion. Anaya entered a no contest plea reserving the right to challenge the constitutionality of the stop.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals sided with Anaya finding that the u-turn was not a violation of law, nor was evasion of a DWI/DUI checkpoint without more a violation of law. As such, the u-turn and evasion of the checkpoint was insufficient for the investigatory stop. The Court also found that the checkpoint was constitutionally unreasonable under Las Cruces v. Betancourt (NMCA 1987).

The Supreme Court found otherwise finding that the checkpoint was indeed reasonable and legal under the law, and further that evasion of the checkpoint itself provides reasonable suspicion for a investigatory stop.

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