Are authorities wasting time and money with sobriety checkpoints?

Have you ever been stopped at a sobriety checkpoint? Did you know that checkpoints can cost more than $10,000 to set up? And despite that high cost, a recent study shows that sobriety checkpoints are not very successful. Pennsylvania motorists know that authorities will take steps to stop motorists from driving under the influence (DUI). However, shouldn't those measures be cost effective and produce real results?

In 2007, Pennsylvania police arrested less than 1 percent of over 181,000 motorists stopped at sobriety checkpoints. Other states have similar findings. For example, in California, over one million vehicles went through 1,469 checkpoints in 2008. Of the motorists stopped, police arrested 0.3 percent. Additionally, from October 2010 to September 2011, West Virginia state police organized 258 sobriety stations. Of the 130,000 vehicles observed, authorities made only 189 arrests for DUI. This was only 3.2 percent of the 5,900 DUI arrests made statewide.

That is a lot of taxpayer money for very few arrests.

With this recent data, some states are in the process of trying to pass laws to eliminate sobriety checkpoints. Why waste resources on something that is not really helping? Leaving aside the fundamental questions about whether checkpoint stops and arrests for DUI are valid, checkpoints are easy to evade. Roadblocks are usually discernible at a distance. Furthermore, people can warn each other of the various checkpoint locations. It just takes a simple phone call, Facebook post or text message to caution drivers of a checkpoint.

A standard roving patrol reportedly costs only about $300 a day. Checkpoints are much more costly, do not produce substantial results, and the bill is footed by the taxpayers. With this in mind, maybe it is time to evaluate whether setting up checkpoints is a valid DUI deterrance.

What do you think? Should law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania halt all DUI checkpoints?

Source:, "Checkpoints not effective," Feb. 18, 2012

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