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What is the real purpose of DUI checkpoints?

radcen

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What is the real purpose of DUI checkpoints?

The number of arrests is pretty small. The locations and times are advertised in advance (usually by court decree, probably not by choice). I believe they would catch more drunk drivers through routine cruising. I don't buy into "...if they catch just one..." when they could catch more. Plus, I don't agree with virtually abandoning the rest of the city to focus solely on that one stretch of street. So, why even have them?

My theory is that they're almost 100% PR. It justifies their budgets and justifies them asking for more money in budgets and grants. It gives LE a high profile to justify themselves to the public.

"Hey, look at us. We're protecting you, but there's still a problem out there and we need to squash that problem, so we need more money."
 

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Yeah I disagree with all that. It is about public safety.
 

radcen

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Yeah I disagree with all that. It is about public safety.
I could buy that if they were more productive... i.e. catch more people instead of 1 or 2 a night (if that).

Now, if you were to say that their presence is for awareness and to discourage people from drinking and driving... public safety in that vein... I think that's possibly legit. But also hard to quantify.
 

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I could buy that if they were more productive... i.e. catch more people instead of 1 or 2 a night (if that).

Now, if you were to say that their presence is for awareness and to discourage people from drinking and driving... public safety in that vein... I think that's possibly legit. But also hard to quantify.
Potential deterrence is always hard to quantify. Take the "war on drugs". It's cited as a failure because there continue to be people who use but there's really no way to know who doesn't use due (at least partially) to not wanting to risk the consequences.
 

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I could buy that if they were more productive... i.e. catch more people instead of 1 or 2 a night (if that).

Now, if you were to say that their presence is for awareness and to discourage people from drinking and driving... public safety in that vein... I think that's possibly legit. But also hard to quantify.
My city does not often do them, but when they do, they catch more than 1 or 2 a night as DUI's are not the only thing they look for--they look for anything and everything. New Years is about the only night you can assume there might be one somewhere. They stopped doing them as often when they changed their patrol methodology--basically units are assigned to certain zones which are they are mostly required to stay on, while there are a handful of units that respond city-wide. The zones rotate.

What they will do which might be a little more obnoxious than checkpoints is if there is a bar/club/restaurant to which a lot of incidents like fights, drugs, drunk driving are being associated, they will set up regular heavy enforcement rolling checks in the area and pretty much drive that bar/club's business away by being all over people in the area who are seen at the place in question, including parking several units right in front of the joint. They usually give the business a fair warning to clean up its act in very short order before they do it though. They have been successful in completely shutting down a few clubs that way (clubs that really needed to be shut down BTW)
 

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Potential deterrence is always hard to quantify. Take the "war on drugs". It's cited as a failure because there continue to be people who use but there's really no way to know who doesn't use due (at least partially) to not wanting to risk the consequences.
Thats true for the other side too. Its impossable to tell how many Drunk Drivers make it home safely with aboslutely NO infraction of law aside from drinking a driveing. They are not caught or counted. It's why people do it, most the time they make it back ok.
Which is why even with it being aginst the law and being caught once or twice some people will still Drink and drive. Because they have done it so many other times with nothing bad happening nothing bad should happen the next time too.
 

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What is the real purpose of DUI checkpoints?

The number of arrests is pretty small. The locations and times are advertised in advance (usually by court decree, probably not by choice). I believe they would catch more drunk drivers through routine cruising. I don't buy into "...if they catch just one..." when they could catch more. Plus, I don't agree with virtually abandoning the rest of the city to focus solely on that one stretch of street. So, why even have them?

My theory is that they're almost 100% PR. It justifies their budgets and justifies them asking for more money in budgets and grants. It gives LE a high profile to justify themselves to the public.

"Hey, look at us. We're protecting you, but there's still a problem out there and we need to squash that problem, so we need more money."
I think your right. If it worked better that way there would be standing DUI checkpoints. But for the most part (maybe 80%) its for show of force. also if it's posted before hand its a reminder DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE TONIGHT we are watching the road for it so don't do it.
 

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My city does not often do them, but when they do, they catch more than 1 or 2 a night as DUI's are not the only thing they look for--they look for anything and everything. New Years is about the only night you can assume there might be one somewhere. They stopped doing them as often when they changed their patrol methodology--basically units are assigned to certain zones which are they are mostly required to stay on, while there are a handful of units that respond city-wide. The zones rotate.

What they will do which might be a little more obnoxious than checkpoints is if there is a bar/club/restaurant to which a lot of incidents like fights, drugs, drunk driving are being associated, they will set up regular heavy enforcement rolling checks in the area and pretty much drive that bar/club's business away by being all over people in the area who are seen at the place in question, including parking several units right in front of the joint. They usually give the business a fair warning to clean up its act in very short order before they do it though. They have been successful in completely shutting down a few clubs that way (clubs that really needed to be shut down BTW)
I don't oppose checkpoints. They serve a worthwhile purpose, in my opinion.

I've never understood, though, why patrol cars don't just hang out around taverns at closing time.
 

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Knowing that a drunk stop is always possibly around the corner is a pretty good deterrent to drunk driving.
 

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I don't oppose checkpoints. They serve a worthwhile purpose, in my opinion.

I've never understood, though, why patrol cars don't just hang out around taverns at closing time.
Because that would close down whatever tavern they chose to hang around.
 

radcen

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I've never understood, though, why patrol cars don't just hang out around taverns at closing time.
I was told many moons ago that that is actually illegal. I forget the reasoning, though.

Something to do with the same legal definition of a speed trap? :shrug: Not sure.
 

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Thats true for the other side too. Its impossable to tell how many Drunk Drivers make it home safely with aboslutely NO infraction of law aside from drinking a driveing. They are not caught or counted. It's why people do it, most the time they make it back ok.
Which is why even with it being aginst the law and being caught once or twice some people will still Drink and drive. Because they have done it so many other times with nothing bad happening nothing bad should happen the next time too.
Up until about ten years ago, my mom's boyfriend (of 47 years) was an alcoholic. Until in his early 70's, every single night he went to "the tavern" and got loaded. Beer. He lived about 5 blocks from it. Never got caught. He fell numerous times after putting his car in the garage at home, most notably once on a freezing night in the deep snow. Ended up with two black eyes and bloodied face. Never got caught. He should have been in freakin' jail. How he didn't kill someone or someone's family? I'll never know.
 

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Primarily I think it's about public safety but there are other money making options during DUI checkpoints which find people not wearing seat belts, unsafe vehicles (lights out, etc.) lack of proper documentation or possibly driving without insurance/registration/license or other non moving infractions all of which increase the revenues via tickets that are written. My brother in law (RIP) was an alcoholic and drove for years drunk never getting nailed and thankfully never causing an accident or killing anyone in the process though had he gotten caught it might have saved his life.
 

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Up until about ten years ago, my mom's boyfriend (of 47 years) was an alcoholic. Until in his early 70's, every single night he went to "the tavern" and got loaded. Beer. He lived about 5 blocks from it. Never got caught. He fell numerous times after putting his car in the garage at home, most notably once on a freezing night in the deep snow. Ended up with two black eyes and bloodied face. Never got caught. He should have been in freakin' jail. How he didn't kill someone or someone's family? I'll never know.
Thats the point again. Most the time most make it home safely. They are just more likely to cause something bad then people do when sober. Just like speeding. Most the time most don't have any problems. But its fineable becuase its more likely to cause something then when going slower. Its not an automatic if you drink and drive you WILL hit a van full of kids. But its demonized alot more so people tend to think of all drunk drivers as slightly evil. (but the same would likely think that they arn't 'really' drunk and can make it)

-For every mile walked drunk, turns out to be eight times more dangerous than the mile driven drunk. To put it simply, if you need to walk a mile from a party to your home, you’re eight times more likely to die doing that than if you jump behind the wheel and drive your car that same mile.- Freakonomics
 

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Well, now we have campaign that tell us that impairment starts with the first drink. We have legislation in congress that wants to lower BAC to .05. And now in some states, they have "no refusal" checkpoints.

I think these laws are draconian and is an attempt at prohibition through creating major inconvenience. Most people aren't raging drunks...Most people aren't idiot kids who feel the need to go 90mph to impress their buddies. Most people have a few drinks and go home without incident.
 

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DUI laws have absolutely nothing to do with public safety. They are all about extorting money from the people.

And they are also clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights because they are based on the assumption that just because someone had a few drinks that person is going to cause some unspecified damage or injury at some unspecified location to some unspecified person(s) or property, at some unspecified point of time in the future.
 

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DUI laws have absolutely nothing to do with public safety. They are all about extorting money from the people.

And they are also clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights because they are based on the assumption that just because someone had a few drinks that person is going to cause some unspecified damage or injury at some unspecified location to some unspecified person(s) or property, at some unspecified point of time in the future.
It's scientific fact that alcohol impairs judgement and reflex ability, especially when driving. The Bill of Rights Article 1 Section 8 states "the Defence and general welfare", yes an overly broad and general statement that has been used for thousands of intrusive and ill thought out laws, but one that applies. Federal and State penal codes based on and backed up by the Constitution are used to enforce penal codes and limits based on % of alcohol in the blood stream as an impairment which allows police to gauge what is too much. You're statement is abjectly false as penal codes for driving while intoxicated are supported by the Bill of Rights, and science as well as statistical data over the last 100 years of deaths, accidents and property damage done by impaired drivers refutes your claim.

I urge you to educate yourself.
 

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What is the real purpose of DUI checkpoints?

The number of arrests is pretty small. The locations and times are advertised in advance (usually by court decree, probably not by choice). I believe they would catch more drunk drivers through routine cruising. I don't buy into "...if they catch just one..." when they could catch more. Plus, I don't agree with virtually abandoning the rest of the city to focus solely on that one stretch of street. So, why even have them?

My theory is that they're almost 100% PR. It justifies their budgets and justifies them asking for more money in budgets and grants. It gives LE a high profile to justify themselves to the public.

"Hey, look at us. We're protecting you, but there's still a problem out there and we need to squash that problem, so we need more money."
DUI Checkpoints are a part of an "awareness" program... its not the arrests that matter so much as (the idea is) that people will THINK before making bad decisions because they know there is a checkpoint. If a checkpoint causes several people to actually get a designated driver or a cab, they may realize its not so bad doing the DD or cab thing and decide it is better than the alternative after all. Basically, if its not as much of a hassle as people thought it might be, they will actually think more about their decisions prior to a night of drinking.

Also, setting up a checkpoint does not abandon the city. Often people who normally wouldn't be working during those hours are working the checkpoint.... Often alot of special teams guys who do various non-standard patrol functions work them, along with a few officers from the area where the checkpoint is, or even officers from other divisions who don't absolutely NEED all the strength they have that night can volunteer to work a checkpoint in another area.

No, they aren't as effective as patroling areas where you know DWI's are a problem when it comes to being able to make an arrest. But not EVERYTHING law enforcement does (or at least not everything SHOULD be ) is focused on the "numbers". It is about helping people to think and make better decisions about their safety awareness.
 

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I could buy that if they were more productive... i.e. catch more people instead of 1 or 2 a night (if that).

Now, if you were to say that their presence is for awareness and to discourage people from drinking and driving... public safety in that vein... I think that's possibly legit. But also hard to quantify.
It is that type of attitude from the public that turns Police Administrators to altering case reports to create a false picture that crime is lower than it is.

The public is too focused on the statistics, which makes Administrators focus on stats rather than real results.
 

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DUI laws have absolutely nothing to do with public safety. They are all about extorting money from the people.

And they are also clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights because they are based on the assumption that just because someone had a few drinks that person is going to cause some unspecified damage or injury at some unspecified location to some unspecified person(s) or property, at some unspecified point of time in the future.
What people call "clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights" just slays me.

Driving an automobile is not an unconditional right. The Constitution of the United States protects the people from the government. Laws and regulations protect us from ourselves and others.
 

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Thats true for the other side too. Its impossable to tell how many Drunk Drivers make it home safely with aboslutely NO infraction of law aside from drinking a driveing. They are not caught or counted. It's why people do it, most the time they make it back ok.
Which is why even with it being aginst the law and being caught once or twice some people will still Drink and drive. Because they have done it so many other times with nothing bad happening nothing bad should happen the next time too.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Standardized Field Sobriety Testing course taught to officers estimates in its training block that for every DWI offender arrested around 800 more were not caught.
 

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Because that would close down whatever tavern they chose to hang around.
This is why when I was heavily into enforcing DWI laws, I would choose major roadways between neighborhoods and clusters of bars to enforce the law on rather than right outside the bar. I took into account the various bars within a several square miles and found the route or routes that they all had in common and focused my attention on that road or roads. Always tried to make sure I checked multiple roadways in the area instead of just the one (for obvious reasons, seasoned drunks would use alternate routes..... sadly most people can't fathom doing that for their commute to work... but home from a night of drinking is a different story).
 

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DUI laws have absolutely nothing to do with public safety. They are all about extorting money from the people.

And they are also clearly a violation of the Bill of Rights because they are based on the assumption that just because someone had a few drinks that person is going to cause some unspecified damage or injury at some unspecified location to some unspecified person(s) or property, at some unspecified point of time in the future.
With the way you discard any thought that because some people make it home (relatively) safely from a night of drinking by driving themselves that it somehow negates the FACT that Impaired Driving causes more combined Property Damage, Injury, and Death than any other individual crime on the books????
 

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I could buy that if they were more productive... i.e. catch more people instead of 1 or 2 a night (if that).

Now, if you were to say that their presence is for awareness and to discourage people from drinking and driving... public safety in that vein... I think that's possibly legit. But also hard to quantify.
I've heard of dozens being caught in a single night at a single check point. Which amazes me when you consider that by law you don't have to pull up to these check points and you can legally turn around or turn to avoid them altogether. If I've had more than a beer or two and I'm driving (Something I haven't done since college really) then you can be sure I'm not driving right through a DUI check point.
 

radcen

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DUI Checkpoints are a part of an "awareness" program... its not the arrests that matter so much as (the idea is) that people will THINK before making bad decisions because they know there is a checkpoint. If a checkpoint causes several people to actually get a designated driver or a cab, they may realize its not so bad doing the DD or cab thing and decide it is better than the alternative after all. Basically, if its not as much of a hassle as people thought it might be, they will actually think more about their decisions prior to a night of drinking.

Also, setting up a checkpoint does not abandon the city. Often people who normally wouldn't be working during those hours are working the checkpoint.... Often alot of special teams guys who do various non-standard patrol functions work them, along with a few officers from the area where the checkpoint is, or even officers from other divisions who don't absolutely NEED all the strength they have that night can volunteer to work a checkpoint in another area.

No, they aren't as effective as patroling areas where you know DWI's are a problem when it comes to being able to make an arrest. But not EVERYTHING law enforcement does (or at least not everything SHOULD be ) is focused on the "numbers". It is about helping people to think and make better decisions about their safety awareness.
Excellent answer. Thank you.

Regarding the "abandoning the city" aspect, I'll grant you that. Somehow I've managed to experience only two or three of these checkpoints in my lifetime, and they were always large bright obvious affairs (which is part of why I believe they're more for show), but now that I think about it they did have people from multiple jurisdictions.

Part of my thinking in this regard is from when I see a LEO sitting on the side of the road with a radar gun on a lazy Saturday morning. In my opinion, that person is essentially abandoning the rest of the city in favor of that one spot. They might justify by saying it has the same intent as a high-profile checkpoint, but I'd question that. People slow down whenever they see a cop, and one would think that knowing you might see one anywhere at any time would, I think, be more of a deterrent than knowing you'll see one on Elm Street between 4th and 5th.


It is that type of attitude from the public that turns Police Administrators to altering case reports to create a false picture that crime is lower than it is.

The public is too focused on the statistics, which makes Administrators focus on stats rather than real results.
I would agree with this. The public is way too infatuated with statistics, which is why DAs run on their conviction rates, which is why we have a problem with wrongful convictions. (Slightly OT)


I've heard of dozens being caught in a single night at a single check point. Which amazes me when you consider that by law you don't have to pull up to these check points and you can legally turn around or turn to avoid them altogether. If I've had more than a beer or two and I'm driving (Something I haven't done since college really) then you can be sure I'm not driving right through a DUI check point.
Legally, on paper, yes. Just try it and see how far you get.

If you or anyone you know has successfully done this, then I would suggest you/they were lucky and not seen doing it.
 
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