With Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, keep an eye out for those “Sobriety Checkpoints,” aka “Suspicionless Checkpoints” which will start popping up around the Valley. Sobriety checkpoints are roadblocks on public roads at which officers systematically stop vehicles in order to investigate a driver's sobriety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explains how these checkpoints are justified:
* “Sobriety checkpoints increase the perception of the risk of arrest, if they are adequately publicized and highly visible to the public.”
* “When drivers perceive the risk of being caught is high their behavior changes immediately.”
Although courts in the majority of states, including Arizona, have ruled that sobriety checkpoints are upheld by federal and/or state constitutions, several states consider checkpoints illegal under varying interpretations. A survey published by the Governors' Highway Safety Association (“GHSA”) in 2009 indicated only twelve states—Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming—refuse to permit the use of sobriety checkpoints within their borders (GHSA 2009).
Statistics released from the 2011 Memorial Day weekend for Maricopa County show that out of more than 11,000 traffic stops, there were 462 arrests from Wednesday through Sunday. This represents an approximate 4.2% hit rate. There are many arguments both for and against the use of roadblocks in an effort to reduce drunk driving, however, many law enforcement officials and researchers believe that roving patrols are much more effective and are a better use of scarce resources.
There's no doubt that systematically stopping cars and conducting sobriety tests is one way to prevent driving under the influence, however, despite efforts to make sobriety checkpoints as minimally intrusive to the driver as possible, it's easy to see why the debate continues.
In any event, at this time, it looks like those sobriety checkpoints in Arizona are here to stay.
The Law Office of Craig W. Penrod has been involved in criminal and DUI defense for more than 20 years. Contact the DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod for a free initial legal consultation if you find yourself facing DUI or criminal charges.