What Happens at DUI Checkpoints and Why Are They Necessary
A DUI checkpoint, also known as a sobriety checkpoint, is one method law enforcement uses to test drivers for intoxication. Checkpoints are usually set up at intersections and during times when impaired driving is more common, such as nights, weekends, and holidays.
According to the CDC, checkpoints are proven effective by reducing alcohol-related crashes by 20%.
Drunk driving checkpoints have been a trending topic, many wonder if these locations should be shared in map applications like Waze and Google Maps. A personal injury firm believes displaying drunk driving checkpoints should not be allowed, stating “…these checkpoints reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes in certain areas, the real-time sharing of DUI checkpoints through apps like Waze allows drunk drivers to avoid the reality check they need.”
What to Expect at a DUI Checkpoint
If your car is one that law enforcement signals to stop, obey their commands. The officer will ask you to lower your window and turn off your vehicle. They will ask to see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. During this interaction, the officer looks for signs of intoxication. These signs may include some or all of the following:
- Slurred speech
- The strong odor of alcohol
- Bloodshot eyes and an inability to focus
If the officer suspects you of driving under the influence, they will ask you to step out of the car. A field sobriety test will occur, using one or more of the following tests:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus—With this test, the officer tracks your ability to follow an object from side-to-side with your eyes. A person who is under the influence will have jerky eye movements and inability to focus their eye movements.
- Walk-and-Turn Test—Placing your heel to toe, you will take nine steps forward, turn on one foot, and repeat. This is a balance test and also tests your ability to follow directions.
- The One-Leg Stand Test—You must stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud until told to stop. The officer will test you for 30 seconds. Using your arms for balance, swaying to maintain balance, or putting your foot down is grounds for failure.
The tests measure actions that are important for safely operating a motor vehicle. While certain conditions such as medications can invalidate tests results, overall the tests are highly successful in identifying drivers who are under the influence. According to research data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the tests have a high percentage rate of accuracy when it comes to classifying drivers as intoxicated:
- The HGN test: 88 percent
- The walk-and-turn test: 79 percent
- The one-foot test: 83 percent
The field sobriety test may include a roadside breathalyzer test. This test determines the blood alcohol level concentration (BAC). If a roadside breathalyzer test isn’t given and you are transported to the police station, you will have your BAC tested using an Evidential Testing Device (EBT). While blood tests are also an option, they tend to be less common.
Why Are DWI Checkpoints Necessary?
Despite public safety campaigns and harsher laws, drunk driving continues to plague our nation’s highways and city streets. DUI checkpoints are in place not intending to arrest people but rather to serve as a deterrent to drinking and driving. Not all states allow checkpoints but those that do find that the average stop, for sober drivers, takes the same amount of a traffic light cycle.
Even one drink could become one drink too many, leaving you impaired and in no shape to drive. It is possible to enjoy a night out with friends, but don’t drink and drive.
How Drager Can Help With Your DUI Charge
A DUI charge is a wake-up call that affects how you get to work, school, and even a medical appointment. If you are arrested for DUI, your state may allow you to get back-on-the-road with an ignition interlock, also known as an in-car breathalyzer.
For more than 20 years, Draeger has helped drivers regain their freedom by supplying Ignition Interlock systems that are easy to use. With an extensive network of service centers throughout the U.S., we provide the support you need when you need it.
Let our trusted brand help you with your court-ordered ignition interlock. Our friendly and professional team will guide you throughout the process. For more information, contact us today.
*Links to any third-party websites herein are provided for your reference and convenience only. Dräger did not create nor develop, and does not own, any such third-party websites. Dräger does not endorse nor support the content of, nor any opinions stated in, any such third-party website links. Dräger is not responsible for the content of any third-party website or its accuracy or reliability. Nothing contained in this article or in any such third-party website shall be considered legal advice or be deemed to constitute legal advice. For any legal advice concerning a DUI arrest, charge, conviction or consequences thereof, you should contact an attorney of your choice.