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How Effective Are DUI Checkpoints?

Labor Day wasn’t likely much of a holiday for the six people arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Lower Macungie Township over the weekend. In addition, of the 91 motorists who were stopped, eight were issued citations. Four of the arrests were for driving under the influence, while the other two were for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

A 2002 study conducted with the participation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that DUI checkpoints effectively reduce alcohol-related car crashes by about 20 percent. Although they cost money to implement and maintain, their savings to society, in financial and human terms, can be considerable. By setting up checkpoints during times when the likelihood of alcohol-related crashes is highest — weekends and holidays, for instance — law enforcement is able to maximize the effectiveness of the checkpoint.

Although not all states use sobriety checkpoints as part of their traffic safety system, and the practice can be controversial, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of such checkpoints in 1990.

Rules overseeing checkpoints

One key aspect of a checkpoint system is that motorists must be pulled over in a systematic fashion, such as every third car or every fifth car, and breath tests must not be administered without reasonable suspicion. It is also crucial that the checkpoint have a very specific purpose, such as removing drunk or impaired drivers from the road. The purpose must be related to the operation of motor vehicles. Police can’t set up a checkpoint and stop every single car with the intent of trying to nab citizens who may have marijuana in their vehicles, for example. In other words, they can’t be out to catch general criminal activity with a checkpoint.

If you have been arrested for suspicion of DUI, contact a knowledgeable Reading, PA defense attorney with the Law Office of David R. Eshelman right away.

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