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Drunk driving checkpoints: Do they make a difference?

DUI checkpoints are common, especially during holiday weekends. Yet, is it worthwhile to add time to residents' commute? Do these sobriety checkpoints work?

According to a 2009 University of Maryland study, the answer is no - sobriety checkpoints do not have "any impact on public perceptions, driver behaviors or alcohol-related crashes."

Yet, police officers continue to use these checkpoints for exactly the same reasons. They believe publicizing the checkpoints (which is required under law) raises awareness and decreases the amount of drunk driving.

Sobriety checkpoints have been upheld as constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the Court, "the sum of the state's interest in preventing drunken driving, the extent to which this system can reasonably be said to advance that interest, and the degree of intrusion upon individual motorists who are briefly stopped, weighs in favor of the state program." In other words, the state's interest outweighs the imposition on the defendant's privacy that the checkpoints cause.

Even though studies point to the ineffectiveness of sobriety checkpoints, it is clear that authorities will continue to use them. The number of checkpoints and an increase in DWI forces is common around the holidays. Therefore, we strongly recommend finding a safe ride home.

If, however, you are charged with drunk driving after going through a sobriety checkpoint, your rights are not diminished. You have every right to remain silent and ask to speak with a lawyer. Then, an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you fight the criminal and civil consequences.

Learn more by visiting our page on DUI / DWI motor vehicle offenses.

Source: The Star Press, "Rethink use of checkpoints," Sarah Longwell, Nov. 16, 2012

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