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In The Media :

New Years DUI Roadblocks in Springfield Illinois

Each year around the holidays in Springfield, local law enforcement agencies promote their DUI checkpoints. Presumably, these announcements are to bring awareness about DUIs and prevent motorists from Driving Under the Influence. This post will discuss the law of roadside checkpoints and whether roadblocks actually discourage drunk driving in Springfield, Illinois and throughout the United States.

As always, if you have been arrested for Driving Under the Influence, contact our DUI Defense Attorney for a Free Initial Consultation at (217) 414-8889.

The Law of the Roadside Safety Check

In Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the United States Supreme Court held that sobriety safety checks meet the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment. In so ruling, the Supreme Court found that the State of Michigan had a substantial government interesting to advance by preventing drunk driving and that the practice of DUI checkpoints was “rationally related” to that interest.

Important components of the Supreme Court’s conclusion that the checkpoint program was constitutional included: (1) the intrusion upon motorists is “slight”; (2) the program sufficiently limited officers’ discretion, as “checkpoints are selected pursuant to [established] guidelines, and uniformed police officers stop every approaching vehicle”; (3) the program addressed the very serious “drunken driving problem”; and (4) there was support for the record for the law enforcement judgment that such checkpoints were among the “reasonable alternatives” available for dealing with that problem.

Do DUI Roadblocks Prevent Motorists from Driving Under the Influence?

According to Rachel Alexander’s article, DUI Checkpoints:Yay or Nay?:

Motorists engage in secondary behavior during approximately half of their time on the road. Hands-free mobile phone conversations are legal all around the country, but slow reaction times by a significant 26.5 percent, according to a study from the UK. Eating slows reaction times by up to 44 percent. Drivers who text slow their reaction times by 37.4 percent. In contrast, drivers at the legal limit for alcohol in the UK, which is .08 BAC, only demonstrated a 12.5 percent increase in reaction time. The National Highway Administration finds this disparity to be even greater, surmising that driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.

In her article, Ms. Alexander goes on to discuss the findings of a Maryland DUI checkpoint program study which concluded that “there is no evidence to indicate that [the Maryland] campaign, which involves a number of sobriety checkpoints and media activities to promote these efforts, has had any impact on public perceptions, driver behaviors, or alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and injuries.”

Conclusion

By no means are we arguing that drunk driving is smart or legal. However, when law enforcement states that these enforcement efforts are meant to bring awareness to DUI, it is simply propaganda. We believe you would be hard pressed to find a person who does not know they should not drink and drive. The real reason why the State of Illinois and local municipalities conduct these road-checks is purely monetary. They are given funds by the federal government through the U.S. Department of Transportation and if they don’t meet the requirements (quotas) of these grants, local governments will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So we, like Ms. Alexander conclude that Former Chief Justice Rehnquist should reconsider his opinion that DUI checkpoints are both “necessary” and “effective” because they are not.

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