According to information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 persons in the U.S. will die today in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. That’s almost 10,000 killed each year. The problem of drunk driving is pervasive. During 2015, more than one million persons were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Some experts say drunk driving costs our country billions of dollars each year. Georgia and the surrounding states utilize a number of measures to combat drunk driving. One tool that is not without controversy is the sobriety checkpoint.
Sobriety Checkpoint: What is It?
Generally speaking, law enforcement officers stop vehicles at a predetermined location to check for signs that drivers might be impaired. The officers must either stop every vehicle coming through the checkpoint or stop vehicles at some regular interval, such as every third or seventh vehicle. The purpose of checkpoints is to deter driving after drinking by increasing the perceived risk of arrest. Accordingly, in most instances, checkpoints are highly visible. They are also publicized extensively and conducted regularly. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 38 states (including Georgia) and the District of Columbia conduct sobriety checkpoints.
Sobriety Checkpoints Cannot Be Initiated Randomly
In Georgia and elsewhere, a police officer or group of officers cannot merely decide that they want to set up a checkpoint. The location and staffing of the checkpoint is considered to be a supervisory issue that cannot be left to the discretion of field officers. Ordinarily, the location and time of the sobriety checkpoint must be released to the public ahead of time. Officers are generally looking for evidence of drunkenness on the part of drivers. Specifically, they are watching to observe:
- Odor of alcohol about the driver or the vehicle
- Slurred speech
- Lack of dexterity in retrieving one’s license and registration information
- Provision of inconsistent responses to questions
Do Sobriety Checkpoints Reduce the Number of Drunk-Driving Accidents?
Numerous studies have determined that sobriety checkpoints tend to reduce alcohol-related fatal, injury, and property damage crashes. Some studies indicate the reductions may be as high as 20 percent; others put the reductions at roughly half that figure.
Are Sobriety Checkpoints Cost Effective?
The data is less clear about the effectiveness of checkpoints once the costs have been computed. Some jurisdictions, for example, typically have 10 to 12 officers on hand at checklists. Many point out that benefits of having those officers spread out through the area is greater than having them perform a single, visible activity.
In Spite of Checkpoints, Alcohol-Related Accidents Still Occur
The tragic truth, of course, is that in spite of all the efforts of law enforcement officers (and others) to keep Georgia residents from operating a motor vehicle after drinking, drunk driving still occurs. Accidents result and they usually come with horrific consequences. Many persons suffer serious personal injury and sometimes even death. Medical bills pile up. The economic loss in terms of lost wages can be enormous. Those injured often suffer significant levels of pain and suffering. To recover for your losses, you need – you deserve – experienced, caring, and strong legal counsel. At the law offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C., you will have a vigorous and aggressive attorney. Clarke provides personalized service and he gets results.
Do you have questions about your rights following an auto crash? Have you been wronged by a drunk driver? Clarke is there to help you. His clients don’t just deal with a case manager. They can talk to Clarke himself if they have questions or concerns about the status of their case. Clarke once worked for the insurance companies; he knows how they operate and what motivates them. He has office availability throughout the state of Georgia. Contact Clarke, using either the online form or via telephone at (912) 200-5292. We can schedule a consultation.