Law enforcement is quick to support the enforcement of DUI checkpoints as a way of cutting down on driving under the influence. But are checkpoints really effective?
What is a DUI Checkpoint?
DUI checkpoints, also called sobriety checkpoints are when law enforcement officials set up locations (usually in populated areas) to check drivers for signs of intoxication or impairment. According to the California Highway Patrol, the purpose of DUI checkpoints is to: “reduce the number of drunk drivers on the state’s highways, and to diminish the pain, suffering, and death that result from drunk driving. “
Requirements of a DUI Checkpoint
There are specific requirements for DUI checkpoints that are governed by the US Constitution, and in California, under the California Constitution. Here are the 8 specific requirements:
- supervising officers are required to make all operational decisions;
- criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral;
- checkpoint must be reasonably located;
- adequate safety precautions are required to be taken;
- checkpoint’s time and duration should reflect “good judgment”;
- checkpoint must exhibit sufficient indicia of its official nature;
- drivers should only be detained for a minimal amount of time; and
- roadblocks should be publicly advertised in advance.
Good or Bad?
DUI checkpoints do not come without controversy. Both proponents and opponents have specific reasons for why checkpoints are effective or ineffective. Those in support feel DUI checkpoints deter drunk driving as well as educate motorists of the dangers of DUI. They also agree that checkpoints help to take inebriated drivers off the road. Opponents feel the checkpoints are a waste of money that inconvenience people and don’t yield enough results.
Source: Shouse, The legal requirements of California DUI sobriety checkpoints, 2014