• Jun 11, 2009
Upstate New York has earned a reputation as the speeding ticket capital of the country, but even with overeager state troopers patrolling the highways, motorcyclists feel singled out by law enforcement. That's why one rider/attorney is taking the state police, along with county and state officials to court.
According to one Mitchell Proner, the state's institution of roadblocks exclusively for motorcyclists is unconstitutional: the motorcyclist and personal injury lawyer claims that without justifiable cause, the checkpoints infringe on riders' First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly and association and their Fourth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Last year, the New York State Police conducted twelve such "safety checks" near motorcycle events, including the Americade biker gathering at Lake George, the largest such event in the Northeast – and the NYSP plan on conducting fifteen more this year.

Proner claims to be filing the federal class action suite at the Federal Court for the Northern District of New York on behalf of his fellow riders. Whether he has a wheel to stand on is for the legal system to decide.

[Source: 1st5ive.com | Image: New York State Police]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Speeders are also a group of motorist that get singled out by the cops.

      "Group" as you are using it seems quite a stretch. Indeed, the cops are not singling out anyone since many cyclists are also car owners. I think group as used in law (I'm not a law student) usually refers to the phenotype of the individual, and not the vehicle type that he drives.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Toy Yoda

        While "speeders" fall under a group (hell, probably a phenotype, there are those of us more prone to speeding...), they are targeted because they are breaking a law. The motorcyclists in question haven't been doing blatantly illegal things and EVERY single one is getting stopped and searched while cars (even that body-kitted civic with Ebay-non-DOT-approved headlights) are being let through.

        If cops want less bikes with loud pipes, pull them over in the course of daily work just as they would cars with straight pipes and other illegal modifications, showing up outside a biker meet and stopping everyone sounds like entrapment to me (especially if they are on the only road out and show up after everyone arrives).

        "Safety Check" is just the politically correct way of saying "Improper search under the guise of 'The Greater Good'".
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think these random police roadblocks should be challenged in court. Several states have already ruled them unconstitutional.

      There is no probable cause for being stopped just because you happen to be out on the road. I'm not usually anti-cop but in this case they are way out of line.


        • 5 Years Ago
        While there doesn't have to be probably cause for a roadblock stop, there does have to be an all encompassing stop. The police are allowed to stop all cars or every third car for example, just so it is objective. Stopping every motorcycle doesn't seem to fit within this standard of objectivity but with the state hurting for money I bet this shady practice is upheld though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bikes with loud pipes/removed cats/unlicensed riders are illegal. SOOOO let the police PATROL the highway and pull over the loud pipe boys with no turn signals.

      Let me put it another way. Some gang members wear blue clothes, others wear red. Would you have the police stop every pedestrian wearing blue or red clothes to search for weapons or parole viloations?

      The arguement of no violation no worries is the scariest logic of all. How about random house searches with no warrants? I bet the police would find lots of lawlessness.

      Do you get it now?
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the bikers aren't doing anything wrong then they have nothing to worry about....If their equipment is illegal, or tags expired, they will get exactly what they deserve for breaking the law. A TICKET.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How about worrying about wasting their time due to a discriminatory practice. I've lived in upstate NY for 3 years now after living in NC and w/o question all levels of law enforcement in NY consistently demonstrate predatory behavior. It's just another example of how this state's gov. is out of control.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "If you nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about."

        The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution beg to differ.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is EPYX's board. No points are valid except his. Please remember this for future posts.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's great to see people fighting back and not letting police do things just because they think they can.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This might be you and something you love next time. Maybe your softball team games as a great example where friends of similar hobbies congregate. Remember, you might not ride a bike or care, but put yourselves in our shoes.

      I live in Upstate NY, we have a struggling tourist area called Sylvan Beach with a tropper barracks in it. Last year they started motorcycle only roadblocks and begun ticketing for anything they could find from non DOT helmets to loud pipes. I stopped going to Sylvan Beach, even though my camp was only 10 minutes away. I actually rode last less year because I did not want to deal with the hassle. Frankly, I don't find that sort of harrasment (make no mistake it is harrasment to pull over only one type of person or vehicle) acceptable and certainly we have all discussed whether or not it is legal.

      Let me make an example. The other day, I left a cruise in at Quaker Steak and Lube locally and saw an officer sitting on the side of the road doing radar and watching things. I was not speeding, breaking any laws and was not harrassed. If I was, he could pull me over. that is all good. Now, what if he setup a roadblock, let cars go buy and only stopped motorcyclists? Since many of us had a beer or 2 over the past 3-4 hours, they could say they smell booze on you and do a search. To me, that is over the top. That is harrasment.

      @Rocketboy; we pay taxes too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes it might be me or someone I love that's put at risk by some tool driving a 150hp bike with no license and no insurance. The only people that have a problem with this are running illegal pipes and no emissions equipment. We F-U if you are put out by being caught for breaking the law.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good for you.

        Maybe it's a bad idea to be out driving around in a group smelling of beer.

        Just thinking out loud.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sylvan Beach! I grew up in Marcy, NY....and I spent many a summer there! But yes, you are right about that area. Years ago when I rode sportbikes we would cut through Rome, NY to get to sylvan Beach, and you couldn't make the trip without seeing AT LEAST 4 or 5 trooper cars or local Sheriffs.

        It seems like anything fun is becoming illegal. Same thing goes for lifted trucks. I had a full-size Bronco with a 10" lift and 36" swampers, and I can't tell you how many times I was pulled over by a Trooper so they could measure my bumper height to see if ti was legal. I once got a ticket because they said my truck required mud flaps due to bumper height! C'mon NYS....really?

        • 5 Years Ago
        OBTW.. are commercial truck checkpoints harassment? They seem to only do those on truck routes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rocketboy, epic, EPIC failure. Why? I said maybe a couple of beers. Most legal limits allow for a drink per hour without any problem whatsover. Of course, I drink wine and rarely drink at all when riding my bike, I don't like the feeling. I figured someone would jump needlessly on this. I was almost wrong. Thanks.

        Next, you picked trucks. Too bad you didn't read this whole thread. Truck are held to federal regulations including things like driving time and WEIGHT, the reason those scales exist and why it is in fact, legal. Of course someone would have gotten on it otherwise by now as harrasment. I have had a commercial license and am aware of weight, placards and hazmat rules and more which can get you in trouble all the time. The test for a CDL (Commercial Drivers License) with hazmat endorsement was a tough test, realy.

        C'mon back later when your RocketMAN and can argue as such.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not sure how the laws are written up North but in NC it is considered entrapment if the police set a roadblock near an establishment selling alcohol.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bikes with loud pipes are obnoxious.

      Police checkpoints are scary.

      I'll take obnoxious, thanks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does this also mean weigh stations for semis are unconstitutional?

      A) passenger vehicles are never pulled over for weighing

      B) Trucks are "singled out" for this treatment, costing them time and money

      I smell endless frivolous lawsuits.

      The fact that this guy is a personal injury lawyer should tell you something....
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, trucks are weighed, but because there is a law that says every vehicle over a certain GVW must be checked. The reason passenger cars aren't weighed is because there isn't a single one on the road that crosses that limit. Truckers know, as part of their job, that they WILL be stopped for weigh-ins, which is not entrapment.

        The argument here is whether this constitutes entrapment, because even if the bikers are breaking the law with loud pipes and such, the cops are setting up in the immediate vicinity and stopping ONLY bikes with no legal backing other than calling them "safety checks".

        Much as someone said earlier, its often considered entrapment to setup road blocks outside of establishments that serve alcohol, and while it may serve "the Greater Good", it is still very much illegal because it infringes on our right to not be improperly searched.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh come on now… trucks are weighed because their weight damages roads and they are commercial vehicles that are regulated and taxed for such purpose. Jesus.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What is funny is how far down I have had to scroll past these posts to realize your making comments, like many others, totally oblivious to the point. No wonder all the blank checks and high taxes, no one is seeing the big picture, until it hurts them.

      And whats with all the sheep on the loud car comments? I have 2 cars with loud exhausts, but I have not yet been pulled over at a roadblock ONLY pulling over loud cars. Actually, I never get a pipe ticket at all on my car, never have.
      • 5 Years Ago
      New York is the speeding ticket capital of the country? I've lived here my entire life an I honestly never knew that. I guess I just assumed everyone gets tickets at the same rate as we do, but maybe not.

      I'm not sure how much over the limit you have to be going to get a ticket as a general rule, but it's got to be more than ten over the limit because I typically drive 10-12 mpg over and I haven't had a ticket in 15 years. Or perhaps they let me get away with more because I have New York plates. They might pull over out of staters at the same speeds for all I know.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      There's no love lost between the donorcycle riding citizens of NY and myself, but this does seem pretty stupid/unfair and should be stopped.

      However, since my 4-wheeled machines need to follow noise and emissions standards, so should they be held accountable as well. I say: pull over loud, eratically driven, or speeding bikes just like cars have traditionally pulled over.
    • Load More Comments