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Definition - What does Sobriety Checkpoints mean?
What are Sobriety Checkpoints?
Sobriety checkpoints are locations along a roadway where police officers will request vehicles to momentarily to stop. The purpose of the stop is to check each driver for signs of intoxication or impairment. Many jurisdictions use these stations as a way to contribute to drunk driving prevention on a larger scale.
In most cases, drivers are notified along the roadway via signage indicating that a checkpoint is up ahead. During the examination, officers will speak with each approaching driver for around 10-15 seconds. During this time frame, officers will observe the driver's speech, appearance, and any apparent odors or aromas coming from inside the vehicle. If a driver exhibits any indication of being under the influence, officers will ask the driver to move to a separate location to perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests. If the driver passes the tests, the will be sent on their way. However, if the driver fails the tests, they will be placed under arrest for alleged drunk driving or drug impairment.
What if someone tries to avoid a Sobriety Checkpoint?
Due to excessive signage to prepare drivers for an upcoming sobriety station, officers are also on the lookout for anyone who tries to avoid going through the checkpoint. If law enforcement notices any drivers making a purposeful u-turn, or a screetching of tires, or a sharp turn in another direction, the driver is subject to being legally stopped and investigated by an officer.
Are Sobriety Checkpoints conducted everywhere?
The short answer to that question is no. Not all states conduct sobriety checkpoints. Sometimes there are too many legal issues surrounding drunk driving for states to agree in implementing these stations. Many US states that prohibit sobriety checkpoints argue that it is a violation to the Fourth Ammendment of the US constitution to perform such a check. However, there are states where sobriety checkpoints are embraced and performed on a regular basis.
Places where Sobriety Checkpoints are Implemented:
- 38 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Places where Sobriety Checkpoints are Not Conducted:
- 12 states
- Rhode Island