The sobriety checkpoint has always been a hot topic of debate in the United States, and not all states allow police to hit the road and perform them at random. Sobriety checkpoints, also known as random checkpoints, are not conducted in 12 states. Texas, for example, prohibits them based on the state’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Whether your state allows them or not, there are definitely pros and cons to sobriety checkpoints. Here are a few you may have heard of.
Cons to sobriety checkpoints
When debating the pluses and minuses of sobriety checkpoints, one of the biggest issues that comes up is the fourth amendment right to be free of illegal search and seizure.
Depending on how a state interprets the Constitution, that state may decide that the stopping of motorists and asking them if they’ve been drinking before driving could amount to an illegal search. If the police impound that driver’s vehicle because he or she was suspected of driving drunk, that also could be interpreted as illegal seizure of property.
Another con people associate with sobriety checkpoints is the overall cost of running the program and whether or not that grant money and police manpower could be allocated in some other way.
Pros to sobriety checkpoints
Sobriety checkpoints save lives. By stopping drunk drivers at random, police are given the element of surprise and are able to immediately take a driver off the road. Unless he or she is stopped, that driver could go on to a crash and end up killing someone.
Depending on the state, once those drivers are stopped they will be prevented from driving drunk again by an ignition interlock. Many states now require first offenders to install an ignition interlock after a single drunk driving conviction, and they’ll have to install one in any vehicle they drive. That alone should be enough to stop most drivers from turning into repeat offenders.
Sobriety checkpoints and whether or not they should be a part of drunk driving patrols will continue to be a topic for debate. Love them or hate them, there’s no denying they have stopped and taken a lot of drunk drivers off the road, and that’s a good thing.