Do DUI Roadblocks Work? (Part II)

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on April 29th, 2008

As I discussed in a recent post, the fatalities statistics used by MADD and government agencies to justify DUI checkpoints are flawed. In fact, the statistics can be viewed as indicating quite the opposite.

Well, all right, so checkpoints may not reduce fatalities — but, according to MADD, they certainly result in more DUI arrests.

Wrong again. The simple fact is that checkpoints are largely wastes of police resources and taxpayer money — not to mention unjustified invasions of privacy. In fact, in the United States Supreme Court decision (Michigan v. Sitz) upholding their constitutionality, a dissenting justice pointed out the “the findings of the trial court, based on an extensive record and affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals, indicate that the net effect of sobriety checkpoints on traffic safety is infinitesimal and possibly negative”. (Emphasis added)

This is confirmed by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies, which conclude that “the number of DWI arrests made by the roving patrol program was nearly three times the average number of DWI arrests made by the checkpoint programs”.

Then why do we have DUI roadblocks? Consider the following news story:


Chester County officials said recent recommendations from the national headquarters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been implemented by area police departments for years. Among the recommendations are an increased focus on prevention tactics such as sobriety checkpoints.

“We work with MADD and will continue to work with them to reduce the incidents of drunken driving in Pennsylvania,” (DOT spokesperson Jenny) Robinson said….

“I’ve read that police are less than enthusiastic about DUI checkpoints because they don’t make as many arrests,” (MADD official Bryce) Templeton said….

Richard Harkness, superintendent of the Tredyffrin Police Department, said checkpoints keep drivers aware that police are on the lookout for drunken drivers. He said there usually aren’t many DUI arrests at checkpoints, but they help educate the public.

“There should be as many DUI roadblocks as economically feasible,” Harkness said.

So…Roadblocks are invasive, don’t reduce fatalities and don’t produce more arrests — but we should have lots more of them. Why? To educate us.

  • standup

    Let’s start by “educating” the children:
    I ran across this beauty of a kids toy at the RIDL forums, at first I thought it was a joke. This is a REAL kids toy.

  • standup

    I guess desensitize (sp.?) is as good a word to use as educate. ( As far as the kids go). Some of the customer comments on that toy are a real hoot.

  • joe

    I very much respect the MADD agenda, but interfering with both the law and the lives of everyday citizens is wrong no matter what the agenda. Attorneys need to be able to protect their clients and help them get back on their feet should they have a substance abuse problem. Roadblocks existing simply to arrest people will backfire when bad arrests are made and the courts are full of cases and appeals. These roadblocks are extremely shortsighted.

  • koivisto

    Most agree that drinking and driving don’t mix. As well as driving sleepy, unconcentrated, or in a vehicle in poor repair. We get it. One only needs to do a quick search to find the leading causes of death in the USA and quickly learns that DUI is very low on the list. As a Engineer I have always looked to solve problems starting with the biggest and working my way down. Personal agendas don’t sway me. Roadblocks are an invasion of privacy that this country once protected, and fought a war to get it. I am still trying to figure out why the general public doesn’t see this furor for what it is, A PERSONAL AGENDA THAT IS OUT OF CONTROL.

  • Flipper

    I live in PA. I can tell you why Penndot/ local officals are interested in running these so called check points and working so closly with MAD.

    Its called a nice little diversion program in PA called ARD.

    ARD is for first time offenders. With some conditions like not having someone in your car under the age of 14 and no injuries(other than yourself) you can qualify. If you get a DUI Charge (once only every 10 years) you can opt for ARD and get the charge expunged if you do everything they say classes, fines short probation. BUT AT A HIGH COST. Average ARD/DUI costs 1200 bucks. Thats more than if you actually got convited fines run from 300-1000 bucks on a convition depending on BAC. The average BAC falls into the high range in PA. 099-.159.. (750 fine for this convition)and look at the break down on the fines.. local state county EMS fee’s everyone is making money off the ARD fine.

    OH and if your not drunk but they get you on something else (no violent) you can in many cases use ARD to get out of this… Thus making money for the state, local governmant ect.

    Oh what I did not understand last fall. They ran a DUI check point on a major Highway in the Pittsburgh area. This check point stopped over 6000 cars the first night and only made 19 dui arrests. only 19 arrests!

    This check poiint was to honor a officer killed in a non DUI related event.. why would a DUI check point honor a officer killed not by a drunk driver?

    anyway this check point was not well recieved. Many people conmplained they got held up in traffic for up to 1.5 hrs and people get held up going to work and many said they need restrooms to use.