How To Guide
Drunk and drugged driving affects one
in three Americans during their lifetime. The probability of being injured
or killed in an impaired driving crash is still unacceptably high.
THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
The good news is that alcohol and drug-related
traffic fatalities are at an all-time low. The bad news is that impaired
driving fatalities account for 38 percent of all motor vehicle deaths.
That's one person killed every 33 minutes and one person injured every
two minutes. We've come a long way in the battle against impaired driving,
but it continues to be one of the most serious national problems.
Our road to success has been a long,
steady climb. By working together in national, state and local partnerships,
the number of impaired driving incidents has declined. Campaigns such as
Drink & Drive. You Lose. provide a voice for Americans who wish
to end the violent criminal act of impaired driving. Targeting high-risk
populations such as 21- to 34-year olds, people with high Blood Alcohol
Concentration (BAC) and repeat offenders, and underage drinkers between
the ages of 15 and 20, the You Drink & Drive. You Lose. campaign
offers communities a framework to support current state and local impaired
driving and underage drinking programs.
Working with the National Organizations
for Youth Safety, which represents over 40 youth oriented safety groups,
NHTSA created a ground-breaking new program called Zero Tolerance Means
Zero Chances. The campaign is about making sure that drivers under 21 know
they will face severe penalties if they are caught drinking and driving
impaired. If drivers under 21 possess a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
level over .00, .01 or .02, depending on the state, they will be found
guilty of impaired driving.
Through the You Drink & Drive.
You Lose. campaign and support from partners, we hope to reach the
national goal of no more than 11,000 deaths by the year 2005. To reach
this goal, campaign partners and law enforcement officials must reach out
to communities with this life-saving message, You Drink & Drive.
You Lose. Partners include the International Association of Chiefs
of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Organization
of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Operation C.A.R.E., the National Association
of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives, Mothers Against Drunk Driving,
Nationwide Insurance, and Safe Communities. We are continuing to work with
other groups in health, education, the judicial system and businesses to
expand the partner base.
As we forge ahead, the solution to
our nation's impaired driving problem will come from leveraging partnerships
more effectively at the local level. Community-based partnerships, along
with increased enforcement, are the key to winning the battle against impaired
driving. Among the many methods of enforcement, two of the most effective
tools for law enforcement agencies are sobriety checkpoints and saturation
SOBRIETY CHECKPOINTS AND SATURATION
In communities across the United States,
only one arrest is made for every 772 impaired driving trips. Law enforcement
resources must be used efficiently and effectively in order to reduce impaired
driving. Saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints act as deterrents
to drivers who drink or use drugs and remind the general public that impaired
driving is a crime. Checkpoints and patrols increase the perceived risk
of arrest if they are adequately publicized.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the
constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints in 1990. If conducted properly,
sobriety checkpoints do not constitute illegal search and seizure in most
states. The U.S. Supreme Court decision held that the interest in reducing
alcohol-impaired driving was sufficient to justify the brief intrusion
of a properly conducted sobriety checkpoint.
Most states allow sobriety checkpoints.
Many states set their own guidelines to supplement the federal rules. For
example, many states require advance notice of the checkpoint to the public.
A few states require the production of police studies showing why a checkpoint
location is selected. One state requires police to obtain a Superior Court
order before the checkpoint may be conducted. For a list of states that
permit sobriety checkpoints, and the case law or legislation allowing them,
If a checkpoint complies with the federal
requirements, it does not violate the United States Constitution. Most
states have decided the issue under their own constitutions as well.
In states where sobriety checkpoints
are prohibited, the reasons vary as to why they aren't allowed. Eleven
states currently prohibit any type of sobriety checkpoint. The map below
illustrates states that do and do not permit sobriety checkpoints.
The issue has not been addressed directly, but Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §484.359
allows for administrative roadblocks. They are defined as stops conducted
for lawful purposes, other than identifying the occupants or emergency.
(Source: NHTSA 1999)
Between Sobriety Checkpoints and Saturation Patrols
checkpoints, law enforcement officials evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol
or drug impairment at certain points on the roadway. Vehicles are stopped
in a specific sequence, such as every other vehicle or every fourth, fifth
or sixth vehicle. The frequency with which vehicles are stopped depends
on the personnel available to staff the checkpoint and traffic conditions.
involve an increased enforcement effort, targeting a specific area, to
identify and arrest the impaired driver. Multiple agencies often combine
and concentrate their resources to conduct saturation patrols.
HOW-TO GUIDE FOR CONDUCTING
This How-to Guide can help you plan
your impaired driving enforcement activities. It describes operational
procedures that may help ensure that sobriety checkpoints are conducted
legally, effectively and safely. These points are consistent with those
specified in court decisions, including the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in
Michigan v. Sitz that upholds the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints.
Guidelines are provided below for effectively
implementing either a full-scale sobriety checkpoint or a scaled-back sobriety
checkpoint for agencies with limited resources. However, it is your responsibility
to verify that these guidelines meet your state's requirements.
Sobriety Checkpoint Tips
The difference between full- and small-scale
sobriety checkpoints is generally defined by staffing levels, human resources
or personnel. A full-scale effort might use 10 to 12 officers or more.
Law enforcement agencies should assign
a sworn, uniformed officer to supervise the planning of a sobriety checkpoint.
This officer needs to be highly knowledgeable of your state's sobriety
checkpoint rules and regulations, as he or she will be responsible for
the overall operation and staffing of the activity.
Sobriety Checkpoint Tips
Sobriety checkpoints can be labor
intensive, but some agencies may have too few personnel to staff a full-scale
checkpoint. Small-scale checkpoints are operated under the same guidelines
as larger-scale programs, while using only three to five officers, plus
a cadre of volunteers.
For these smaller operations, duties
should be delegated to all personnel assigned to staff the checkpoint.
Uniformed officers must be present to conduct impaired driver evaluations,
and to make arrests when necessary. Volunteers are needed to assist with
any additional duties or needs that may arise. As with all sobriety checkpoints,
the safety and convenience of motorists and law enforcement personnel are
A timeline appears in Timelines
to help you with your planning.
Prosecutorial and Judicial Support
Laws and Departmental Policy
expertise of a prosecuting attorney (district attorney, attorney general,
etc.) should be an integral part of the sobriety checkpoint planning process.
Once enlisted, the prosecutor can advise you on legally acceptable procedures
in planning and operating a sobriety checkpoint in your community.
can also help to identify legally mandated requirements and the types of
evidential information that will be needed to prosecute cases that arise
from checkpoint apprehensions.
jurisdiction's presiding judge should be informed of the proposed checkpoints
and procedures if the judiciary is to accept their use.
judge can also provide insight on what steps are required to effectively
sobriety checkpoints far in advance to ensure that the checkpoint meets
unregulated sobriety checkpoint can potentially be ruled unconstitutional
or illegal in your state's courts.
from established, acceptable procedures has been used as evidence against
law enforcement officials in court.
checkpoint must be run smoothly to be effective. A sobriety checkpoint's
success depends upon a collaborative, organized effort from everyone involved.
law enforcement officials and sobriety checkpoint personnel should be well
versed in all standard procedures and operations.
all assigned staff and volunteers on the procedures, and make sure they
are prepared for their roles at the checkpoints.
should prepare alternative plans to deal with inclement weather, traffic
congestion, road construction or other traffic safety issues.
state and local jurisdictions may require full documentation of any deviation
from the predetermined plan.
locations with a high incidence of impaired driving related crashes or
selecting a site for a sobriety checkpoint, the safety of the general public
is the top priority.
the checkpoint with the least amount of inconvenience and intrusion to
the safety of your officers and volunteers when selecting a site. Visibility
is an important factor.
into account the traffic volume, single-vehicle collision history and impaired
driving arrest history of a particular stretch of road before choosing
it as a site.
several stretches of roadway as potential locations for sobriety checkpoints.
checkpoint's effect on traffic flow should be measured before committing
to a location. To determine a roadway's potential traffic build-up, estimate
the time necessary to conduct a single motorist interview. Multiply the
time by the number of available officers and divide by the average number
of vehicles that can be expected at that location during the checkpoint.
it is not practical to check every passing vehicle, the method used to
determine which vehicles are stopped must appear in the administrative
order authorizing the use of sobriety checkpoints, depending on your state's
a site with ample shoulder space for detained motorists and vehicles, as
well as room for potential traffic "back-up" and officers and volunteers
sure that the sobriety checkpoint is visible from a far distance so that
motorists have time to stop safely. Electronic warning signs, law enforcement
vehicles and flares can provide sufficient warning to motorists.
warning signs, flares, fuses, and safety cones or similar devices should
be used in combination with marked patrol vehicles with warning lights
sufficient roadway illumination and lighting necessary for officer and
motorist safety. Portable lighting may be used if permanent lighting is
flashing warning lights on marked patrol vehicles parked near the checkpoint.
sure that traffic-warning devices comply with federal, state or local transportation
devices should comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices
and Investigation Techniques
purpose of a sobriety checkpoint is not to frighten motorists, but to make
them feel reassured and safe.
presence of uniformed officers and marked vehicles is very important
they confirm the legitimacy of the activity and ease the intrusion on motorists.
proper training, the sobriety checkpoint will not yield the desired result
a reduction in impaired driving.
enforcement officials assigned to sobriety checkpoints need to be properly
trained in detection of impaired drivers.
assigned to sobriety checkpoints should be fully trained in DWI Detection
and the battery of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST). NHTSA has
a SFST training course available for law enforcement officers. Please contact
your state highway safety office or NHTSA regional office.
Alcohol Sensor may be used to detect the presence of alcohol in a suspected
motorist. These devices use alcohol-specific fuel cells and air pumps to
sample ambient air near the mouth of drivers who do not actively have to
participate. When it records alcohol, the results are only approximate;
that is, the device provides information on the presence but not the amount
suspected of impaired driving should be directed to move their vehicle
from the lane of traffic to a pre-determined holding area.
the motorist appears impaired, a volunteer or an officer should move the
should ask non-incriminating, divided-attention questions (i.e., requesting
drivers license and registration) and follow with the SFST battery of tests
(including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk-and-Turn test and the
One-Leg Stand test).
the SFST is completed, a portable breath testing device should be administered
(if allowed in your jurisdiction).
the officer suspects the subject is impaired by substances other than alcohol
(meaning that the suspect registers a low BAC but appears impaired), a
Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) should be called in to assist.
a DRE is not available, the officer should proceed with normal departmental
procedures regarding drug-impaired drivers.
of the nature of the activity, authorities should make available evidential
chemical testing or transportation to such facilities
form of chemical test must be included.
- Invite the media to cover the checkpoint or a training session in preparation for it. For more information on working with the media, refer to the section on Publicity and Promotion.
- To effectively educate the public regarding sobriety checkpoints, law enforcement agencies need to promote them with confidence.
- Sobriety checkpoints can also be an opportunity to educate the motoring public about impaired driving, speeding, child restraint and seat belt usage (if time and state laws allow it).
- Because only a small percentage of the driving population is affected, most people will only know about sobriety checkpoints through word-of-mouth or media reports.
- Pamphlets, flyers and other promotional materials may be distributed to passing vehicles. A camera-ready flyer (pdf) is located in the table of contents. You can make as many copies as you need. Or you can enlist a local sponsor to reproduce copies for you. Offer to place the sponsor's logo on the flier in exchange for their donation.
- Invite prosecutors and judges to a checkpoint.
reaction to sobriety checkpoints should be measured thoroughly.
and riders passing through the checkpoint should be given the opportunity
to evaluate it via a brief questionnaire, which can be handed out to motorists
and mailed back to the law enforcement agency.
Sobriety Checkpoint Questionnaire to the Public
Help your local
law enforcement refine their efforts to halt impaired driving! (Fill out
the following questionnaire and drop it in the mail to [YOUR DEPARTMENT'S
Is this the first
sobriety checkpoint that you have encountered?
is the first checkpoint I have ever encountered.
No. If no,
where and when was the previous checkpoint?_________________
Did you hear
about the Sobriety Checkpoint in advance?
If yes, where
did you hear about the Checkpoint?
how long did you have to wait in line before you passed through the checkpoint?
[ENTER LOCAL IMPAIRED DRIVING STATISTICS] occur each year in our community. Do you feel that the wait time you experienced at the checkpoint was worth it to make our roads safer?
Yes, the inconvenience
is worth it to make sure our streets are safe
Do you have any
other comments or suggestions?
Be sure to include
your agency's address on the reverse side of the questionnaire.
HOW-TO GUIDE FOR CONDUCTING
As with sobriety checkpoints, effective
saturation patrols require careful planning. For enforcement agencies conducting
their first saturation patrol, it is recommended to begin with a small-scale
enforcement project. Eventually, larger enforcement projects can be explored
as experience is gained. But whether the saturation patrol is large-scale
or narrowly focused, there is one important key for success: the solicitation
of ideas from participating coordinators. By sharing ideas, suggestions
and solutions, program participants can sustain a high level of motivation
and assist in streamlining the overall operation of the saturation patrol.
Consider these areas when planning
a saturation patrol:
Review and Mutual Aid
local prosecuting attorney(s) regarding plans to conduct a saturation patrol.
area courts, juvenile, and jail authorities about your plans so that additional
staff can be assigned, if necessary.
these offices to help plan the saturation patrols.
these offices for ideas to streamline the arrest and booking procedures
for individuals detained as a result of the patrol.
jurisdiction issues and boundaries for saturation patrols involving multiple
law enforcement agencies. Provide court boundary maps to each participating
geographic area for saturation patrol. Saturation patrols cover a broader
area than checkpoints.
Mutual Aid Agreements drafted to support these activities.
Departments of Alcohol Beverage Control
a command post to coordinate operations and process suspects.
command posts include police facilities, churches or public buildings.
Mobile Processing Units can be used to house operations.
patrols are perfectly legal if held under rules governing regular patrols
but they focus on impaired driving.
devices are not required for saturation patrols.
a testing or detention facility to hold and process impaired driving suspects.
The detention facility should be highly visible to media, easily accessible
for processing suspects and large enough to stock necessary supplies.
needed, enlist the aid of volunteers to facilitate operations such as hospitality
or administrative matters.
all participating personnel regarding proper procedures at the beginning
of every saturation patrol.
available, incorporate the assistance of Reserve or Auxiliary Officers
to assist with saturation patrols.
Public Information Officer
your state's department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) for insight about
locations prone to high alcohol consumption and impaired driving incidents.
may also provide information on underage impaired driving enforcement.
Public Information Officer should be appointed to work with the media.
which materials should be distributed to the public and to violators.
overall effectiveness of a saturation patrol is greatly enhanced by increased
publicity. A saturation patrol's success is largely determined by the number
of drivers who are deterred from getting behind the wheel after drinking
or taking drugs.
Public Information Officer may employ the assistance of volunteers for
distribution of media materials.
publicize the saturation patrol. Publicity tips are located in the Publicity
and Promotion section.
Impaired Driving and Riding
these visual cues are presented in four categories:
some visual cues are:
in maintaining proper lane position
and braking problems
For more information on detection cues, please order The Visual Detection of DWI Motorists and The Detection of DWI Motorcyclists at NHTSAs web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov or by faxing the order form located in the Resources section or the PDF located in the Table of Contents.
during a turn or curve
with balance at a stop
inattentive to surroundings
majority of costs incurred from planning and conducting a saturation patrol
should not extend beyond normal salary and benefits associated with daily
law enforcement operations.
jurisdictions may plan and operate saturation patrols independently; however,
smaller agencies and jurisdictions can partner with other local or state
law enforcement agencies to conduct a multi-jurisdictional saturation patrol.
funding options may be explored as the saturation patrol program develops,
such as the State Highway Safety Offices, foundations, other traffic safety
groups and the private sector.
that participating officers are skilled in visual detection cues for impaired
drivers and motorcycle riders.
assigned to the patrol should fully understand SFST and be trained in D.U.I.
serving as DREs should be present during saturation patrols. Information
regarding SFST and the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program is available
through State Highway Safety Offices, NHTSA Regional Offices and the IACP.
to law enforcement the fact that impaired driving is a violent crime that
kills, and that communities want saturation patrols because they make citizens
that it costs more to prosecute a repeat offender than to prosecute a murderer.
employees involved with chemical testing procedures of a potential increase
in breath testing and instrument calibrations.
lab personnel regarding a potential increase in blood and urine samples
submitted for alcohol and drug analysis.
reflective placards identifying the enforcement project. Placards can be
placed on the sides of patrol vehicles and processing centers.
increase the public perception of the risks associated with driving while
officers to the enforcement and execution of outstanding warrants for alcohol-
and drug-related offenses.
are involved in alcohol-related crashes at a much higher rate than drivers
over 21. Law enforcement officials should target underage impaired drivers
on nights when the majority of these crashes occur.
Reports and Documentation
belt usage generally increases when enforced as part of saturation patrol
this strategy to help generate media interest in saturation patrols and
public safety activities.
that proper paperwork is correctly routed to the assigned prosecuting attorney
a debriefing at the conclusion of each saturation patrol operation. The
debriefing should include all personnel involved in the operation, such
as patrol officers, supervisors, administrative personnel, media relations
representatives, communications officers, jail staff and transportation
data regarding the number of agencies involved, number of patrol cars,
and the number of arrests made and the type of arrests.
enforcement and prosecution statistics, media and public responses, and
a critique of entire operation.
planning phases, site selection and securing of the command post for overall
effectiveness. Solicit ideas and suggestions from all operation personnel.
a final report following the debriefing. Summarize all recommendations
for improvement of future operations.
Questions for Administrative Review of Saturation Patrol Operations
Did the patrol effort
address the stated problem?
Were the stated
goals and objectives met?
Were the personnel,
equipment and other resources devoted to the program adequate?
Did media coverage
Were all participating
agencies adequately prepared and equipped for the patrol effort?
What was the public's
perception of the event? Was public awareness of the problem of impaired
driving in the community raised?
Was the expenditure
of resources worth the results? Remember, more than just arrest numbers
should be examined. Factors such as public perception, morale of participants,
among others, should be considered.
If future saturation
patrols are to be undertaken, what operational and policy improvements
need to be made? Commanders should address issues such as expanding the
program to include other agencies, or including additional operational
units to further address the problem of the impaired driver.
Law or Legislation Governing Checkpoints
||515 So.2d 149 (Ala Cr. 1987)
||No statutory provision or case law
||691 P.2d 1073 (Ariz. 1984)
||827 S.W.2d 157 (Ark. 1992)
||743 P.2d 1299 (Cal. 1987)
||803 P.2d 483 (Colo. 1990)
||671 A.2d 834 (Conn.App.CT. 1996)
||See 621 A.2d 804 (Del. Super Ct. 1992).1
The courts have not directly upheld their constitutionality under the state
|District of Columbia
||See 629 A.2d 1 (D.C. 1993)2
||483 So.2d 433 (Fla. 1985)
||318 S.E.2d 693 (Ga. App. Ct. 1984)
||H.R.S. §§286-162.5, 286-162.6
||756 P.2d 1057 (Idaho 1988)
||486 N.E.2d 880 (Ill. 1985)
||500 N.E.2d 158 (Ind. 1986)
||According to Chapter 312K
||673 P.2d 1174 (Kan. 1983)
||660 S.W.2d 677 (Ky. 1984)
||764 So. 2d 64 (La. 2000)
||551 A.2d 116 (Me. 1988)
||479 A.2d 903 (Md. 1984)
||521 N.E.2d 987 (Mass. 1988)
||506 N.W.2d 209 (Mich. 1993)
||519 N.W.2d 183 (Minn. 1994)
||The issue had not been addressed directly,
but see 506 So.2d 254 (1987), holding that police may stop a vehicle which
evades a roadblock. See also 150 So.2d 512 (1963), upholding license checks.
||755 S.W.2d 624 (Mo. App. 1988)
||"Safety spot checks" are authorized
by Mont. Code Ann. §§46-5502. The statute authorizes checks for
licenses, registration, insurance, and identification.3
||383 N.W.2d 461 (Neb.1986). Checkpoints
may be allowed if proper standards are followed
||This issue has not been addressed
directly, but Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §484.359 allows for administrative
roadblocks. They are defined as stops conducted for lawful purposes, other
than identifying the occupants or emergency.
||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §265:1-a.
Though originally held to be unconstitutional, the Justices subsequently
issued an opinion endorsing checkpoints. They are valid under the state
constitution only with superior court order.
||567 A.2d 277 (N.J. Super. 1989)
||735 P.2d 1161 (N.M. App. 1987); 908
P.2d 756 (N.M. App. 1995). They are generally valid under the state constitution,
but the facts of each roadblock must be examined.
||473 N.E.2d 1 (N.Y. 1984)
||N.C. Gen. Stat. §20-16.3A. Roadblocks
that comply with this statute have been held constitutional.4
||513 N.W.2d 373 (N.D. 1994)
||651 N.E.2d 46 (Ohio App. 10 Dist.1994)
||884 P.2d 1218 (Okla. App. 1994)
||743 P.2d 711 (Or. 1987)
||535 A.2d 1035 (Pa. 1987)
||561 A.2d 1348 (R.I. 1989)
||Follows federal guidelines outlined
in Michigan v. Sitz, 486 U.S. 444(1990)
||522 N.W.2d 196 (S.D. 1994)
||1988 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 725; 1995
Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 836. Valid under the state constitution if conducted
||887 S.W.2d (Tex. Crim. App. 1994).
They are not permissible in Texas under the federal constitution only because
Texas has no statutory scheme authorizing them.5
||496 A.2d 442 (Vt. 1985)
||337 S.E.2d 273 (Va. 1985)
||755 P.2d 775 (Wash. 1988)
||460 S.E.2d 48 (W.Va. 1995). They are
constitutional when conducted with in predetermined guidelines.
||Wis. Stat. §349.02(2)(a) prohibits
||Wyo. Stat. §7-17-101 et seq.6
the court, "Delaware has considered the constitutionality of DUI roadblocks
and has found no per se Fourth Amendment violation
The stopping of a vehicle
within the purview of a sobriety checkpoint remains a legitimate tool for
the enforcement of laws prohibiting driving while under the influence."
The court held that
checking for impaired drivers is a lawful justification for a roadblock.
It cited Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990) as authority.
Note that the Highway
Traffic Safety office indicated that the statute is used as authority for
spot checks of safety belts as well as impaired driving.
See State v. Barnes,
472 S.E. 2d 784 (N.C. Ct. App.1996).
The court upheld that
the federal constitution requires the legislature to enact constitutional
guidelines before checkpoints may be conducted.
Since the statute
defines only specific areas of authorized roadblocks, all others are foreclosed.
Source: NHTSA Traffics Saftey Facts, 1999
Uniform Crime Report, 1999 Department of Justice