The year 2010 will be remembered by many Californians as the year that police officers and law enforcement agencies cracked down on drunk driving. The state plans to conduct more stops than ever before in an attempt to reduce accidents caused by impaired drivers. They hope that if the threat of being stopped by a checkpoint is more of a reality, drivers will be less inclined to get behind the wheel. I’m all for anything that will help bring down accident rates, particularly alcohol-related accidents.
The advantages to sobriety checkpoints are obvious. Statistics show that every 22 minutes, someone dies from an alcohol related auto accident. In California’s 2008 crack down on drunk drivers, they arrested over 5,000 people on the account of drunk driving at these checkpoints. The checkpoints are funded by grant money so it doesn’t take officers away from their standard duties. Instead it increases the amount of officers on duty. Also, alcohol-related car accident deaths have dropped by over 20 percent over the last 5 years. Many people conclude this statistic is related directly to increased sobriety checkpoints and police presence.
While no one doubts that cracking down on drunk drivers is a worthy cause, it’s more of an issue of the constitutionality of these checkpoints that causes concern. The overall number of people arrested at these checkpoints is extremely minimal compared to the 215,000 impaired driving arrests that were made outside of the checkpoints in 2008. That means, the sobriety stops only accounted for 2.3 percent of total charges. Many people challenge the checkpoints because it can lead to unconstitutional search and seizures and racial profiling. Some even question the overall effectiveness of such checkpoints.
To learn more about the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints you can read the original article here.