Category Archives: Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety Checkpoints: the Slippery Slope

The Supreme Court’s validation of DUI "sobriety checkpoints" as an apparent "DUI Exception to the Constitution" was yet another transparent attempt to circumvent the Constitution — in this case case, the 4th Amendment’s protection against stops by police for no cause. (See "DUI Sobriety Checkpoints: Unconstitutional?") Yet, checkpoints have repeatedly been shown to be considerably less than effective (see "Do Roadblocks Work?" and "Do Roadblocks Work – Part 2").

But as citizens across the country are discovering, these roadblocks are increasingly being used by police as a pretext to stop citizens for reasons other than DUI investigations — as a revenue-raising method by issuing license, registration or equipment citations (see "DUI Roadblocks for Fun and Profit") or, increasingly, for general questioning and searches.

DUI Checkpoints Find Controversy

Method raises civil liberties concerns

York, PA May 28, 2006 ? When police snagged Cody Whitten in a sobriety checkpoint, two words echoed through his head like the gentle thud of boots trudging up to his car. Papers, please! "It’s like we’re living in 1940s Germany," said Whitten, a Wrightsville-area man who said the random checks violate his Constitutional rights. He said checkpoints are an excuse to run background checks on him and every person coming home from work on a Friday evening – people who aren’t breaking any laws. "That’s not the way it’s supposed to be," Whitten said…

Residents in the area are told to expect more barricades in coming months. But according to arrest records from the last few years in central Pennsylvania, the tool isn’t as efficient as roving patrols that target drunken drivers. And civil libertarians, frustrated by what they see as a post-Sept. 11 sentiment that security and safety should trump individual rights, hope that argument will help win a battle they don’t have time to fight…

Another “Successful” DUI Roadblock

I’ve written in past posts that the "DUI Exception to the Constitution" for roadblocks has been badly abused. Specifically, police are increasingly using these ineffective and intrusive roadblocks to issue unrelated citations and increase governmental revenue….

Police say DUI Checkpoint was a Success

DANBURY, CT December 29  Even though city police officers made only one drunk-driving arrest after stopping more than 1,000 motorists at a sobriety checkpoint late last week, they called the effort successful….

Ten officers were called in to take part in the roadblock. They found 29 infractions, mostly for people traveling without a license. Fifteen cars were towed because the operator didn’t have a license or registration. About 350 verbal warnings were issued. Two separate arrests were made for drug possession when illegal substances were found in two vehicles.

One DUI among more than 1000 drivers. 99.9% of the people stopped were sober. And that’s called a "successful effort"…financially.

DUI Roadblocks Still Ineffective — and Lucrative

In recent posts I've commented upon the ineffectiveness of roadblocks in apprehending drunk drivers — and the increasing tendency of local governments to use them as a thinly-veiled means for generating revenue from unrelated traffic, registration and equipment citations and towed vehicles.

Three drivers arrested at weekend DUI checkpoint

Stockton, CA, Nov. 7 — Police conducted a DUI checkpoint from 5 p.m. Saturday till 1 a.m. Sunday at Hammer Lane and El Dorado Street.Of the 1,744 vehicles that passed through, three drivers were arrested for driving under the influence, 28 vehicles were towed, and 36 citations were issued, according to the Stockton Police Department.

Final tally: 3 arrests…after stopping 1,744 cars over 8 hours (and pocketing a lot of money from minor violations and impound fees). (Thanks to Jeanne M. Pruett of RIDL.)

MADD Continues Staffing DUI Roadblocks

A few weeks ago I posted a story about Mothers Against Drunk Driving assisting Delaware law enforcement in manning DUI sobriety checkpoints (and, in Tennessee, even setting up their own roadblocks).  The practice appears to be spreading.  The following is from a recent San Diego County Sheriff news release:

SANTEE.  The Santee Sheriff's Traffic Division is turning up the heat on drunk drivers this weekend.  Those who choose to drink and drive may find themselves cooling off in a jail cell.

In cooperation with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), the Santee Sheriff's deputies will be conducting a DUI sobriety checkpoint on Friday, September 13th, at an undisclosed location within the city limits….

Sheriff's deputies, senior volunteers, reserves and representatives of MADD staff DUI Sobriety Checkpoints.

When did you start "cooling off in a jail cell" for drinking and driving (which is not illegal)?  And when did MADD begin staffing roadblocks? 

I've posted in the past about the ineffectiveness (and unconstitutionality) of DUI roadblocks.  So how effective are these Sherrif/MADD joint efforts?  Well, the same news release reports that the  preceding effort resulted in 1169 drivers encountered at the roadblock, of which 556 were waived through, 613 were stopped, 50 were asked to step out for further investigation….and only 1 was arrested for DUI

However, local government coffers were fattened with 27 citations and 10 impounded vehicles — an apparently growing reason behind roadblocks supposedly set up to find drunk drivers.



(Thanks to Jeanne M. Pruett, President of Responsibility in DUI Laws, Inc.)

New Data: DUI Roadblocks Don’t Work

In previous posts I've commented upon the ineffectiveness of DUI roadblocks. Yet, MADD continues to demand more and more of these wastes of law enforcement resources. Now this story:

Statistics spark debate on whether DUI checkpoints work

STOCKTON, Sept. 18 — Recently released federal data has prompted a beverage industry group to declare checkpoints ineffective and to push for more resources to be spent on patrols to prevent people from drinking and driving.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration in August released data on alcohol-related deaths in 2003 and 2004. Last year saw a decline in fatalities, and most of the drop occurred in states that don't use sobriety checkpoints. That led the American Beverage Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based restaurant industry group, to proclaim checkpoints as an ineffective method in preventing alcohol fatalities.

"There were 411 fewer deaths in 2004, 394 of which were in nonroadblock states," said John Doyle, executive director of ABI. "It's a startling finding when you look at it through that filter."

California is one of 39 states that use checkpoints to prevent and catch drunken drivers. It also had 14 more fatalities in 2004 than 2003. All 11 states that don't use checkpoints — among them Oregon and Washington — reported a decrease in alcohol-related deaths….

"Checkpoints are successful, because they get the word out," said Officer Bill Sivley, a spokesman for Stockton CHP, adding that officers often give out informational pamphlets to motorists. "We will never know how many people were deterred from drinking and driving because of them."

Let's see….DUI roadblocks don't work — they may even increase fatalities — but we should have more of them because they "get the word out"?