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Sobriety checkpoints: a defense perspective, P.2

Addressing the problem of drunken driving is obviously an important aspect of improving roadway safety, and there are a variety of tools employed by the criminal justice system in this effort. These tools include not only fines and potential incarceration, but also license suspension and use of ignition interlock devices, as well as so-called “no refusal” campaigns and DUI checkpoints, depending on the state.

In our previous post, we spoke a bit about the arguably limited effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints. One possible reason for the lack of effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints is that, here in Maryland and elsewhere as well, police departments typically announce the location and time of checkpoints in advance. That, along with ubiquitous access to smartphones, may allow more drunk-drivers to better avoid sobriety checkpoints. In any case, the vast majority of drivers pushed through these checkpoints are sober. 

That being said, supporters of the use of sobriety checkpoints say that there is little question as to their effectiveness, particularly as a deterrent to drunken driving. The argument is that regular, publicly announced sobriety checkpoints actually prevent the intoxicated from getting behind the wheel. It is questionable, though, how effective this technique is at targeting repeat offenders.

It is important to point out, though, that while the effectiveness of sobriety checkpoint efforts could be debated at length among the informed, the issue of legality is another consideration altogether. In our next post, we’ll say a bit more about the aspect of the topic, and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney when the legitimacy of a sobriety checkpoint comes into question. 

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