are sobriety checkpoints helpful - dui checkpoint sign - summit bhcA sobriety checkpoint is a pre-selected location where law enforcement either systematically or randomly stops vehicles to determine if the driver is intoxicated.

In the past, there was much debate regarding whether these checkpoints violate citizens’ constitutional rights. It was determined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990 that sobriety checkpoints were within the rights of the Constitution. However, not all states perform these on a regular basis. Currently, 38 states, along with the District of Columbia, permit sobriety checkpoints (CDC). To increase effectiveness, these checkpoints must be extremely visible and highly publicized.

The thought behind checkpoints is that they help deter people from drinking and driving by increasing the possibility of getting caught.

Checkpoints can also help with non-alcohol- or drug-related offenses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted research in 2002 and found that “checkpoints reduce alcohol-related fatal injury, and property damage crashes each by about 20 percent.” Recent studies were conducted in 2011 by Nunn and Newby which determined, “the number of impaired collisions in post-checkpoint periods was approximately 19 percent less than in the pre-checkpoint periods” (CDC).

Is the threat of sobriety checkpoints a deterrent, or are actual inspections necessary?

This is hard to determine. However, it stands to reason that people will be less likely to take the unnecessary risk of driving while high or drunk if they believe the checkpoint will be present. However you choose to view sobriety checkpoints, there can hardly be anything negative said about bringing more attention to and reducing the growing number of DWIs and intoxicated fatalities.

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Injury Prevention and Control: Motor Vehicle Safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 2015.