Sobriety Checkpoints

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Definition of Sobriety Checkpoints

Sobriety checkpoints are periodic stops or checkpoints set up by law enforcement officers to evaluate whether drivers are operating their motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration or BAC or 0.08% or higher. Critics of sobriety checkpoints argue that they violate a driver's constitutional rights as outlined in the United States Fourth Amendment against illegal search and seizure or "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures".

The right of the United States Government to perform such stops was reaffirmed, however, by the United States Supreme Court on June 14, 1990, in Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz when the court decided that sobriety checkpoints were not necessarily "unreasonable". Chief Justice Rehniquist argued in his opinion that "the state's interest in reducing drunk driving outweighed this minor infringement".

To alleviate critics concerns the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) established recommendations for sobriety checkpoints which include: requiring the police department to have specific procedures for conducting a sobriety checkpoint, requiring drivers to be adequately warned about sobriety checkpoints, requiring a portable breathing machine to be at each sobriety checkpoint, and requiring officers to be properly trained.

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