Nashville, TN- Thanksgiving marks the starts of the start of the holiday season, which means also means there will be more drunken drivers on the road. For the next few weeks law enforcement agencies will increase their patrols and set up sobriety checkpoints to catch drunken drivers, but some question the effectiveness of these DUI checkpoints.
Many have questioned the legality of DUI checkpoints with critics stating these checkpoints are unconstitutional as they subject motorists to unreasonable searches and seizures. While a 1990 U. S. Supreme Court decision ruled checkpoints were constitutional at least 12 states have outlawed the practice.
These checkpoints work in one of two ways; either police ask all drivers to submit to a breath test which they can refuse or officers can pull certain motorists aside for sobriety testing. These checkpoints are placed in areas with heavy drunken driving and during periods with a high concentration of intoxicated driving such as the holidays.
Law enforcement agencies see sobriety checkpoints as one of their tools to combat drunken driving, but a recent piece by American Beverage Institute acting director, Sarah Longwell, questions if these checkpoints are truly effective.
Longwell presents data which shines a light on the effectiveness of these checkpoints. For instance, Ohio law enforcement conducted 135 checkpoints between January and September 2012, but one-third of those checkpoints yielded no DUI arrests. Longwell points out that sobriety checkpoints accounted for .04 percent of DUI arrests in Ohio.
Longwell points out that the reason checkpoints are ineffective at catching drunken drivers is because they are easy for people to avoid and technology makes it much easier for people to notify friends and family of their locations. In many states, police have to post public notices of where they plan to set up a checkpoint and when.
Longwell also points out that Ohio state troopers spent 5,000 man hours on checkpoints and the average cost of one checkpoint is $10,000. In contrast, roving patrols cost only $300 and yield more DUI arrests. Longwell recommends that law enforcement agencies utilize more patrols in their DUI enforcement and scrap the checkpoints.
While Longwell sees checkpoints as ineffective, law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups such as MADD see these checkpoints as a necessary tool to keep intoxicated drivers off the roads so don’t expect them to go the way of the dinosaur anytime soon.
Even though some see checkpoints as ineffective, thousands of people each year will get arrested and charged for DUI. The legal issues are the same, and the charged person will face serious consequences which can include a jail sentence, suspension of your driver’s license and costly penalties, not to mention the prospect of having a criminal record.
If you have been stopped at a DUI checkpoint and charge with driving under the influence, you need the assistance of a DUI attorney. With their help, you may be able to avoid conviction altogether or at the least have your charges reduced.