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Why DUI Checkpoints May be a Bad Idea

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Nov 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

Washington lawmakers have already indicated that they will seek to toughen up state DUI laws by seeking to legalize DUI checkpoints next year.

DUI checkpoints (also known as sobriety checkpoints) are essentially police roadblocks in certain areas where authorities will check every driver for signs of impairment. These checkpoints are controversial as they will interfere with far more sober drivers than drunk drivers.

Two decades ago, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the legality of DUI checkpoints, but ultimately decided it was an issue for state courts to determine. Most states legalized the use of checkpoints. However, Washington joined 11 other states in prohibiting its use.

The arguments against DUI checkpoints that the state court initially considered and that you may be concerned about next year include:

  • Privacy. The chief argument against DUI checkpoints may be that they will invade the privacy rights of many individuals who are following the rules of the road in an effort to catch a few drunk drivers.
  • Unreasonable Search and Seizure. A court may need to balance the intrusion of the stop versus the potential benefit to determine reasonableness.
  • Discrimination. A concern with DUI checkpoints is that they may be utilized in a discriminatory manner. For example, checkpoints may be set up in areas with a larger minority population. Or police officers may profile certain groups to stop and investigate further.
  • Ineffective Use of Resources. Some lawmakers tout DUI checkpoints as a more efficient way to catch drunk drivers. However, little evidence has been presented to support this argument. In fact, one may argue that putting more police on the road to randomly check drivers may be an ineffective use of funds.

If you have any questions about the changing DUI laws in Washington State, contact a Seattle DUI defense attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense by calling 425-284-2000.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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