DUI checkpoints: What’s the Deal?

Police Car

Police Car

DUI checkpoints are a controversial way that law enforcement attempt to mitigate driving under the influence. While eleven states have banned DUI checkpoints, claiming that their violate the states’ constitutions, Arizona is not one of those states.

What are some standard rules for a DUI checkpoint?

While there are no “standard rules” for a DUI checkpoint, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Supreme Court have both issued guidelines to be practiced by law enforcement when carrying out a DUI checkpoint. The California Supreme Court standards are as follows:

  • Decision making must be at a supervisory level, rather than by officers in the field.
  • A neutral formula must be used to select vehicles to be stopped, such as every vehicle or every third vehicle, rather than leaving it up the officer in the field.
  • Primary consideration must be given to public and officer safety.
  • The site should be selected by policy-making officials, based upon areas having a high incidence of drunk driving.
  • Limitations on when the checkpoint is to be conducted and for how long, bearing in mind both effectiveness and intrusiveness.
  • Warning lights and signs should be clearly visible.
  • Length of detention of motorists should be minimized.
  • Advance publicity is necessary to reduce the intrusiveness of the checkpoint and increase its deterrent effect.

How can I find out about DUI checkpoints in Phoenix?

DUI checkpoints are often largely publicized, and should rarely come as a shock to drivers. In addition, DUI checkpoints should almost always be expected during holidays when drunk driving is often prevalent; such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Years Eve, The Fourth of July, and even Super Bowl Sunday.

Furthermore, many motorists are using technology to share the exact location of DUI checkpoints. Often time the locations are broadcast over Facebook or Twitter. There is even an iPhone application, Buzzin’, that alerts drivers of current checkpoints.

So, why have DUI checkpoints if motorists can easily find out about them? Well, most police will state that the knowledge of these checkpoints can deter intoxicated motorists from driving, for fear of being caught; and ultimately, keeping drivers who are under the influence off the road is the goal to begin with.

What should I do if I am intoxicated, but I know there are DUI checkpoints out there?

As in all situations when you are intoxicated- DO NOT DRIVE. There are some great alternatives in the Phoenix metro area that will help ensure your safety:

  • Call a cab! Discount Cab offers riders a program called “Free Ride Back.” This program enables drivers to receive a free ride back to their car the next day. It should be noted however that this program requires riders to make a reservation for a cab (which means calling, and not just grabbing one off the street). You should also request that your cab driver writes down a “trip number” for you, which will make the process of securing your free ride back much easier. Discount Cab can be reached at 602-200-2000.
  • Get a tow! On certain holidays notorious for celebration, AAA offers its “Tipsy Tow” service. This service is available to all people, not just AAA members. During this period, drivers, passengers, party hosts, bartenders and restaurant managers can call 1-800-AAA-HELP (1-800-222-4357) to request a free tow home of up to 10 miles. Callers can simply state, “I need a Tipsy Tow” to receive the free tow and ride home. Tipsy Tow will provide a one-way ride for the driver, one passenger and their vehicle. Contact the AAA website for dates and limitations.
  • Before you drink, have a plan for a sober ride. Maybe it’s a sober friend who stayed in for the night or even a family member.

Bottom line? It does not matter who gets you home; if you have been drinking, do not drive!