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What are sobriety checkpoints and how are they conducted?

Sobriety checkpoints are a source of much debate. These checkpoints serve the important purpose of keeping people who are drunk while driving from being able to harm others through unsafe driving. The reason for the debate is that some people feel that certain people are targeted during the sobriety checkpoints. It is important to note some basic facts about sobriety checkpoints.

Why are sobriety checkpoints publicized?

Some people might wonder why police officers let drivers know about sobriety checkpoints in advance. The reason is that letting drivers know about these checkpoints might serve as a reminder that designated drivers are necessary.

Exactly what is a sobriety checkpoint?

A sobriety checkpoint occurs when officers stop vehicles using a preset sequence to screen the drivers for intoxication. Officers can use a field sobriety test, a breath test or a combination of these tests if they have reason to believe that a driver is intoxicated. Drivers do have the right to refuse a field sobriety test or a breath test, but doing so comes with consequences that can include license suspension.

What sequence is used for sobriety checkpoints?

The sequence for stopping vehicles varies according to the plan for the checkpoint. The sequence for driver contact might be every other car or every fifth car or any other sequence that is determined before the start of the sobriety checkpoint. The preset sequence is said to reduce the risk of racial profiling.

If you were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint and subsequently arrested for drunk driving, you should get started on a defense immediately. Going through the events of the sobriety checkpoint is often a good first step to take.

Source: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, "Sobriety Checkpoints," accessed Sep. 15, 2015

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