Sobriety checkpoints, sometimes called traffic stops, are some of the most disputed ways of enforcing drunk driving laws: although data has shown that regulated sobriety checkpoints in targeted areas are helpful for reducing the number of fatalities caused by alcohol-related car crashes, the whole concept behind a traffic checkpoint goes against standard state traffic laws.
Here are a few important points you need to know about sobriety checkpoints, and how they can affect you:
- State laws all differ when it comes to specific traffic violations and charges, but one standard protocol is that a police officer must have a reason for pulling over a driver. In the case of a drunk driving charge, the officer might notice that the driver is swerving or speeding, and then discovers after pulling the car over that the driver is intoxicated.
- With sobriety checkpoints, the drivers technically aren’t giving police officers any reason to suspect intoxication. Many people argue that because of this, sobriety checkpoints aren’t legal.
- However, some states do allow sobriety checkpoints because surveys have shown that they’re effective. The catch here is that law enforcement officers must follow strict rules that ensure the fairest analysis possible.
- There must be a reason for setting up a checkpoint at a certain place and time (such as previous drunk driving crashes), and it must be announced publicly well in advance. The officers at the checkpoint must have a standard way of stopping cars (such as directing every third car to pull over for a short inspection). If these rules aren’t followed, the checkpoint is considered invalid and unlawful.
- As with other criminal arrest procedures, it’s best to comply with officer requests and then contest the legality later with the help of a lawyer, rather than attempting to fight the DWI arrest procedures on the side of the road. It’s possible to have your case dismissed even after a DWI arrest because the protocols of the checkpoint were violated.
So what do you think? Are DWI traffic stops good ways of lowering alcohol-related crashes, or should they be outlawed completely? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments section.